MockingQuantum fucked around with this message at 05:50 on Jan 5, 2021
|# ? Sep 19, 2020 21:23|
|# ? Oct 4, 2022 20:12|
good things in tunnels
“I used to get scared driving through tunnels,” said Tanni, then clenched her jaw. Stop that! She glanced over at Aura, who was leaning back in the passenger seat with her feet up on the dash and her skirt fallen down almost to her hips.
“Tunnels?” asked Aura. “What, like they’d collapse on you?”
“No.” Tanni knew she’d better leave it there-- what were you thinking? Thank God you said ‘used to’-- but her mouth kept moving. “I’d get scared that I was caught in a time loop. Tunnels are so uniform, the lights sweep by above you, over and over. It’s like there are infinite lights. And if you can’t see the end of the tunnel it’s like you’re not moving at all, like you’re repeating the same one second, like a scratched CD, skipping back over and over. I used to think, what if this never ends? What if I’m in this tunnel forever, unable to move, only able to think, forever.”
Tanni’s heart pounded faster the longer Aura stayed silent. Her cheeks burned and sweat formed between her palms and the steering wheel. Why do you always do this? Maybe she’ll be kind enough to pretend you never said anything-
“What if it was a really good second, though,” said Aura.
“What if something nice was happening. Something you liked, repeating forever. That’d be good, right?” She sat up and casually patted Tanni on the knee. “We’ll just make sure only good things happen in tunnels.”
“Yeah, only good things are allowed in tunnels,” Tanni said, and smiled at Aura. She wanted to give Aura’s knee a pat, too, but couldn’t bring her hand to move. Don’t be so forward! Don’t be weird! She clamped her jaw shut to prevent any words leaking out.
They stopped at a gas station and bought chips and sodas. Tanni watched some crows fighting over a burger wrapper in the parking lot while Aura used the restroom. Sixteen more hours until they were in L.A. Sixteen precious hours alone in a car with Aura. Sixteen dangerous hours to avoid saying or doing anything irreprably stupid. Don’t blow this. You are so lucky, don’t ruin it!
It was supposed to be five of them, but one by one the other girls had canceled. Each ‘sorry, can’t make it’ bred more butterflies in Tanni’s gut. After the third girl dropped out, Aura called, and Tanni was certain it was all over, too good to be true. Aura would say ‘what’s the point in just the two of us going’ and the dream would fade. But the impossible had happened. “You’re still going, right?” Aura had asked. “It will be more fun just the two of us, anyway.”
She saw Aura coming across the lot and her face broke into a huge smile which she quickly shut off. Just be normal!
“Ready to go?”
“Yeah, let’s hit the road!”
An hour passed without incident with the music up too loud for conversation. But then thoughts of tunnels started to worm their way to the front of Tanni’s mind. There would certainly be a tunnel somewhere in their path. What would happen when they went through? Surely no time loop, she knew that now. But how should she react? What should she say or do? When they went in she’d have to say something clever, or make a joke. Some self-deprecating joke would definitely be expected. Aura would be watching her closely the first time a tunnel appeared on the horizon. The minor anxiety and discomfort Tanni usually experienced was multiplied every moment she thought about the absolute fact that they would definitely, inescapably, drive through a tunnel. Why did you tell her? Why?
Aura turned down the music. “Are you okay?”
The last few minutes slowly worked their way into Tanni’s awareness. Aura had been dancing and singing in the passenger seat while she, Tanni, stared dead-pan at the road with a white-knuckled grip on the steering wheel. She willed herself to relax, and flashed a grin at Aura. “I’m good. I’m having a great time.”
“Me too,” said Aura, and she clapped both hands on Tanni’s leg “I’m so glad it’s just us.” Then she threw herself back into her seat, and Tanni felt the fire from her touch still there on her skin, growing hotter, running up her thigh and into her gut, burning away. “Can you imagine,” said Aura, “if they were all here? This car would be packed.”
She just doesn’t like crowds. That’s all it is. Don’t get excited. “Yeah, I’m glad it’s just us, too,” she said.
But Aura had liked the crowd just fine at their first concert together. Tanni remembered her arm pressing against Aura’s arm, skin on skin, as they squeezed to the front of the crowd, and the warm twisting in her gut when Aura had grabbed her hand. But that was just so you wouldn’t get separated in the crowd. Would it be the same at the concert in L.A. she wondered. And in their hotel room, would they lay in the same bed to watch TV? What if there was a mix up and they were only given a single bed? And what if they fell asleep together, under the blankets together, and what if Aura rolled over in her sleep and they put their arms around each other...
A dark spot on the horizon interrupted her fantasies and her heart constricted. No, not already. But there it was, irrevocably approaching, a dark hole into nothingness, growing with every second, steadily opening its mouth to swallow her. Why now? There were so many hours left to drive. So many hours left to imagine things that would never happen, so much time to pretend, and now it was already over. It’s just a tunnel, just a tunnel, calm down. She knew, somehow, that everything would change in the tunnel. Aura would see what an awkward mess she really was, and when they came out everything would be wrong and cold.
Time got sticky, the tunnel grew in freeze frames. Her chest was icy and her ears rang. She imagined just stopping, slamming on the brakes, swerving off the road into the grass, anything to avoid--what? It’s just a tunnel. She heard Aura saying something about ‘good things’ and she knew now was the time to make a joke, but any words that came out would be wrong just by virtue of her saying them. Say something! Do something! But she could only stare straight ahead, silent, useless, like a prisoner being led to her execution.
Darkness swallowed her and all sound was consumed by the ghostly howl of the tunnel. The overhead lights flicked by, one, two, three-- or was it one, one, one? The monotonous unchanging groan, the blinking lights, this was her existence, all of it, summed up, never changing. So what if she repeated the same second forever? Would that be any different from her current life?
Something broke the pattern. A warm softness moved across her stomach and across her back, and spots of heat appeared on her neck, wetness on her neck, on her ear. Impossible. Aura’s arms were around her and Aura’s lips were on her, Aura’s breath on her neck, on her shoulder, her cheek, her ear. Little blooms of euphoria sprouted across her skin where Aura kissed, little vines growing all over her and into her, and the tension and fear flew out of her like a flock of startled birds. The end of the tunnel grew like the sun crashing into earth, rushed toward her, a blinding fire washing over her
And they were out, on the road, and Aura was back in her seat. The sky was the same pale blue, the same grey road stretched into the distance. Transmission towers plodded along on her left. Everything was normal, except everything was different. No, she was just fooling around, just being nice, don’t jump to conclusions! But the voice was so quiet now, like an angry mouse circling its cage, and easy to ignore. Tanni took a breath of clear, cool air.
“If that’s what tunnels are like with you,” she said, “I can’t wait till we ride the Metro.”
Aura laughed, and Tanni reached across and grabbed her hand and squeezed, and Aura squeezed back.
|# ? Sep 20, 2020 01:12|
destination: Disneyland!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! or another park of your choice
purpose: someone just turned 9 years old
white light/pink spiderweb
It hurts. But not like a papercut. My brother says that's shallow, like most loves, but most hatreds too. My bandage is a thin strip lined where the cut was, vanished to the same place prayers go. My brother says it's a bummer when Mom and Dad yell so loud the Machine shakes.
It shakes now, harder than when street lights blew by. Now an open stretch of road beyonds our parents' paired noses. They shout into each other, slack to glance through the windshield. My brother says something. Dad turns to him with lips tight, drawn cheekbones humming, and spits something back. All I've ever been keeps it far from me. If I shut it all out I'll never die.
This is normal. But it aches, not like a papercut, but a tummy-churn, the pain deeper than skin.
Mom's nose hides behind her skull which is behind her headrest. I plaster mine against the window. I keep losing horses behind what I can see. But when I see them in the fields they stare back. Their hair whips in the wind, their coats shades of auburn like my brother's hair before he buzzcut it. When I turn back he looks thoughtful, as if that's all this is, something to muse over.
The Machine needs food. Brother says the Machine eats better than we do. We eat what he calls trash as we wait inside it. Dad the Feeder while Mom drums her fingertips on the dash and sings. Her voice isn't nasal in her head. It's a spacey song, its high notes clashing with the ambient buzz of the idling Machine. All its notes are nowhere, the song stuffed with silence, a slow song beating against me. Empty of melody, her voice betrays its words, keeps its pattern sterile. My brother looks bored now as he prises a mound of crumbs into his mouth. "Our genes and blood," he says. A mutter eking its way into the air like a dying breath.
Mom shoots him a glare but he could mean Dad's genes. Food stains Dad's jeans. Beneath a trucker cap splayed with our flag his face passes me. He's halfway through his clamber in when I scream.
"This again,” Mom says.
For Dad is not my dad but bones, black as insect thorax, his eyes full of white light.
"It's the beercan," my brother says. "Jesus, dad, you're driving."
"It’s one brew,” the insect says through no teeth. “I’m taking us to Brightland. You should be grateful." Its head swivels to face me. I shrink back. Press against the Machine's backseat, like a bandage myself, like it's hurt and I need to save it.
"We never even talk about Brightland," my brother says. Starts to say more. The words are leaving him. But then the insect is leaning over the Machine's shoulder, spraying him with acid. The gloop is luminescent, glowing like wintergreen candy.
"Great," my brother says, slouching. "Now I'll smell like beer all day." But his eyes hood, his chin downturnt. He can't stand against the King of Insect Bones. No one can. Its strange power fills the Machine. An awful hush consumes us. I miss Mom’s song The hush is worse. The King of Insect Bones makes no sound when it’s nothing left to puke out. It's the silence of your breath when sleep is coming like the last days of summer. A silence sporing the air like stomach-churn going from body to body. For aeons the Machine moves, and there’s nothing inside it.
My brother says hell is inside us. His heartbeat echoes mine sleeping against him. Us children have hearts that beat like songs, cadenced, steady. They only beat faster when our bodies move. My brother says adults get trashed on speeding up their heartbeats. Trying to feel it all when they can only handle feeling a little.
I asked if that's why they were so angry all the time.
He said it’s a side effect, like a side effect of making a lot of promises is breaking some. He said adults promise themselves more than they ever promise others. It's those promises that break easy. The worst part is that promises broken are the ones that matter most. So every word of the promise holds in their throats. Fragments to shards that remain, jagged, so what they say comes out laced, wounded
He said he’s turning into one of them. He said this with eyes glittering like glass in sunlight. His eyes hide now behind their lids He's asleep so I untether myself from the Machine the way he says never to do. For the Machine is a cold thing past its fuzz, something that keeps us where a soul should be. The Machine keeps us so it doesn't need a soul. We are its soul, and its soul is the soul of the King of Insect Bones.
The King of Insect Bones isn’t around. The holder braces a hollow silver can. Dad mutters under his breath. He jostles Mom.
"loving battery's running out. Wake up. Didn't you juice it?"
Mom blinks herself into the Machine enough to answer. "Before we left. You must have left a light on." Her voice makes it three words before it’s a bleak snapping thing. Digging as much fury from each sound as it can. Her message is too true to need loudness.
My brother starts awake, like even in sleep he knew something was wrong. "What's up?" he says, pushing me away. He didn't mean to. He still did. Like we don't want to get closer to each other but further, when a dream wakes you to an ugly body and what keeps inside of it. I’m sorry for what I keep inside me. I slip to the side and the tether rustles.
"Dude," he says, and his voice creases too. "You have to be safe. You have to stay safe. I keep telling you."
When I die my death will release what I'm sorry for. My guts will breach the surface of my stomach and splatter the Machine. They’ll mix with insect puke and fester with our bodies. Then the Machine will not have our souls. Our souls will drown in the swamp of us.
"Don’t pull over," Mom says. "Wolves live in these woods."
"It'll be for a second," Dad says. “Gotta switch it with the spare.” Now his voice is bleak. Mom doesn't reply. My brother doesn't speak. Your most desolate magic loudens the world when you're loud and quiets it when you're quiet. Your grief the seed pits of greater grief. The Machine’s grief. For a moment I could scream.
But I don't. I cram my tongue into my teeth to muffle myself. The trees outside are black to their roots. A black sky strewn with stars beyonds them.
"There's a lake on your side," my brother says. He looks at me with eyes cruel with regret. "Past the trees. I looked it up."
"I bet the stars look pretty on the water," he says, then lapses into silence. And my thoughts are a churn. If we could start over we could live beneath the water’s surface. We’d still hug each other, but we wouldn't hear each other. We wouldn't hurt each other with our voices.
My Brother says I didn’t make it. But we are in Brightland with the King of Insect Bones.
"You're living it out, but you’re not real," he says. Orbital lights strobe the sky and rockets climb towers. My brother's ashen skin reflects light but the King of Insect Bones' doesn't. It swallows light. Swallows light, leaves a dark nothing. Not the way things should be but it shades out Mom as stick-thin limbs wrap around her. Wings thrum, ragged, tattered, stained with black moss.
The stars hide past the dancing lights. All four of us walk the strobe-lit path. People of all sorts flood by in shades of sepia and hazel and porcelain. I stick to the earth, like walking on bubblegum.
"What did you say?" Mom says in a sleepy voice.
"Nothing, mom," my brother says. Whispers in my ear. "Everything."
I'm weird. It's my genes and blood, and my brother is weird now too. I made him weird, but I didn't mean to. I wanted him to make me normal. I wanted to stop seeing the King of Insect Bones. But now it's all I see, its moss-streaked wings, the patches of acid gloop it leaves behind. I hop over a patch and my brother holds my wrist like I’ll float away. But I stick to the earth, even when my body breaks from it.
"Kristy wants cotton candy," my brother says. I don't want it because nothing can help us or help this. The candy will go away and we’ll be worse. I'm eating pink spiderweb. It wisps around my fingers and I try to shake it off. My brother laughs. His laughter shimmers in the air but where it bleeds into the King of Insect Bones there’s a mess of static.
"See?" my brother says. "Even in death you're pretty. Soon boys will pick you up from their phones. Pick your name from their screens like crystal balls."
He thinks. He holds my hand again.
"Nine is a magic number," he says. "Once you hit your first decade it all changes. Nine is the last time you stay the same." He shudders like he's cold. His grip tightens. "Nine is the last time candy is perfect."
I will be weird forever. They will cure it many times, in many ways. It will come back like I come back to earth, like the King of Insect Bones is stuck. Its blood and genes are in me. But it’s all new to me, except the Machine. When we return to the Machine it’ll take us home. It’ll take us home and everything’ll be worse.
"Acid," I say.
“I wish. Hardcore brain death,” my brother says. “He sucks it down like lemonade."
And the King of Insect Bones turns, its eyes full of white light. I am only a girl, and I face it with its blood and genes. The four of us together alone are a stone tableau in rushing water. People stream past us in waves. The pretty lights spin and strobe in churning haloes. They are not the light of eyes. Not insect eyes or machine eyes. They are the strangest thing I've ever known.
|# ? Sep 20, 2020 03:16|
destination: A National Park
purpose: to take a real great selfie
The noonday sun was high in the sky and the clouds of red dust that the jeep kept kicking up as they drove distorted the road in front of them so that it seemed to breathe, as though they were riding on the back of an impossibly long snake. Nyakul sighed and rubbed his eyes. Dad would probably have a story about that. Some long winded parable about the dreaming, cryptic words that made no sense to anyone but the Anangu.
“I’ve just posted an update to my story. Look at all the likes babe!”
The girl’s voice rang out from the backseat, followed by a bored sounding affirmation from the passenger sitting next to him. Nyakul observed the couple out of the corner of his eye. The man flipped blankly through his phone. The girl was sprawled out in the back of the jeep, a too-wide smile plastered to her face as her phone camera flashed, body angled in such a way as to show off her skintight leggings. Nyakul felt a flush creeping up the back of his neck and rubbed it self-consciously. Perhaps his tribe had the right idea in keeping men and woman separate. He shook his head. That backwards idea had no place in today’s world. Outdated. The word kept creeping back into his head, like an itch he couldn’t scratch. A sudden burst of noise hit his ears and he flinched in surprise. The man smiled apologetically.
“Sorry mate. Just wanted some music. Too bloody quiet for me.”
Nyakul nodded as a pop song began to blare from the jeep speakers, his hands tightening on the wheel as he listened to the steady thump of the base drum they even steal our rhythms. No, that wasn’t true. He was thinking his father’s thoughts again. Outdated thoughts, thoughts that had no place in the new world.
“Oh christ. Nyak pull over would you? I’ve got to do my yoga pose for the day.” The girl said from the backseat.
Nyakul pulled the jeep over and killed the engine. The girl got out and the man followed shortly. Nyakul drummed his hands on the steering wheel, sweating slightly in the heat. His father would notice the Jeep missing. Punishment would be swift, severe. The vehicle wasn’t just his father’s. It belonged to the entire tribe. He pushed the images of tribe members being unable to drive into town for supplies out of his head, swallowed the acrid bile rising in his throat. If the tribe knew what he was about to do he would be excommunicated, perhaps even killed. He rubbed his thigh anxiously, feeling the thick wad of bills in his pocket. He mouthed the names of cities he had seen on the tattered map back in the village school room. The names white people came up with made them seem distant, alien: Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth.
A tap on the window. The man again, grinning at him with his too-white teeth.
“Sorry mate but could you take a quick picture of the two of us? Just a little memento of the trip.”
“Sure mate.” His voice was almost a whisper. He got out of the jeep and accepted the proffered smartphone.
“Just that little button in the center there. One tap ought to do it.” Nyakul nodded, pretending this was the first time a tourist had asked him to take a picture.
They stood together with identical too-white teeth set in too-wide smiles, arms around each other. One press. “One more.” Another “One last one.” Cryptic codes.
“Which hashtag you think?”
“Nah too generic”
“What about #spiritual maybe? That’ll get those astrology moms going.”
“We used that one already. Yoga photo, remember? Anyway who gives a poo poo? Smile!”
His thumb slipped on the last press and a flood of photos sprang out on the screen. The girl smiling, putting on makeup, doing yoga poses, loving. He exited the screen quickly and handed the phone back, averting his eyes.
“Great shots mate. I’m gonna go… give some water back to the land, that’s what you abbos call it right?” A barking laugh, and Nyakul found himself alone with the girl.
“Sorry about Todd. He can be a bit of a fuckhead sometimes. Calling you a loving abbo for christssakes.” She smiles, waves him a little closer, lowers her voice “The only reason I let him gently caress me is his dad’s a professional photographer and lets us use his gear sometimes. Otherwise he’s… average at best.” She rolled her eyes and let out a schoolgirl giggle.
“I bet you’re not average though. Did you like them?”
“The photos. I know you saw them.” She giggled again as his face flushed.
“It’s alright. Sometimes I send Todd something a little more… risqué to keep him occupied.”
She stepped closer, her hand on his arm.
“I’ve never been with… well, you know.” Hand stopped on his abs, stroked them lightly with a fingertip. “Reckon it could be fun.”
“Reckon what could be fun, babe?”
Nyakul tensed up as the girl quickly withdrew her hand.
“The selfie we’re gonna shoot on Uluru. It’ll be one for the ages. Tons of followers.” She beamed.
“drat right it will be babe.” Todd turned to Nyakul. “Why is Uluru closed for climbing anyway? It’s just a rock. Open it up, guarantee your tribe will make a mint.”
Nyakul shook his head. “It’s sacred to us. One of-” He almost said you devils but caught himself in time- “your people climbing it would be like doing parkour in a church.”
Todd burst out laughing. “Parkour in a church. gently caress mate that’s brilliant. You’re a funny guy.” He slapped Nyakul on the back playfully. “Anyways, best be crackin’ on yeah? Still got a ways to go.” He turned and headed back toward the Jeep.
They stopped for dinner in one of the many anonymous bars that dotted the Australian outback. As they stepped into the place, Nyakul felt the patrons’ eyes on his back, a silent inquisition that reminded him that the closer he got to home, the further he was from safety. A few recognizable faces in the crowd. Tribe members, cast outs, bleary-eyed phantoms with big cans of Visitors Beer and tobacco stained teeth.
“No worries mate, first round on me." A cheeky raise of the glass as they settled in to a corner table. Their food arrived and the girl excused herself, leaving Nyakul alone with Todd. The heat had made him thirsty, and he gulped his beer down with single minded relish, the alcohol combining with the heat to give him a strong buzz quick, and before Nyakul could say anything, Todd told him all about how he posts those photos of her on the internet so strangers can get off to her. She didn't know. Todd made him swear not to tell, called him his mate. They clinked glasses and Nyakul felt the rage build up inside him, twisted a napkin, pretended it was Todd’s neck.
Uluru loomed in front of them in the moonlight. Nyakul felt the bile rise in his throat as he led them onto sacred ground. As they crested the top of the hill, muttered “wow”s and “holy poo poo”s reached his ears. They had no light to shoot by, his orders, but Todd couldn’t resist, one lightning flash lighting the dark, another, a third. Nyakul moved in a haze, his strong hands easily shoving Todd over the edge, his built up body partnering with gravity to do most of the work. The girl was lighter, even easier, their shrieks echoing until the thunderclap of impact. Nyakul looked down at their bent and broken bodies. The tribe would take care of them.
They always did.
He walked back to the jeep, alone with his dreams in the moonlight.
|# ? Sep 20, 2020 22:38|
An uncommon passenger
"You know, your clothes are gonna end up unusable and covered with dust."
Segeria looked at the young man besides her, who looked lost in thoughts. His clothing looked more suitable for a ball rather than a long journey. He snapped out of his introspection and looked behind the cart before answering.
"That's not so bad, I can always buy a replacement on our way, right?"
Then, without waiting for an answer, he went back in his own world. The merchant, more accustomed to traveling alone, let the silence settle as they left the main road for a path passing through wheat fields. Still, it wasn't the first time she had a passenger, but this one was different. He hadn't given her his name, nor did he ask for hers. He only asked if she was going far from town and gave her a gold coin, enough to pay for all the goods in her cart, just for transporting him. She hadn't asked more questions, especially since he didn't look dangerous, but now she thought she had been a bit quick in accepting the deal. He was switching between blank stares and glances at the road behind them, like he expected pursuers.
"Forgive my curiosity, but you didn't do something that might put us in trouble with a patrol?" She said with a voice she hoped confident.
"Oh, I don't think we have to expect trouble. Not from a patrol at least."
The jaunty way with which he said that irked Segeria.
"So you're not gonna tell me what kind of a mess you're in?"
He stared at her. "Why do you think I'm in any kind of a mess?"
"You're fleeing from something and you're watching out for anyone following you, or at least that's what it looks like to me."
He had a mirthless laugh.
"You're not in any danger, this I promise."
"Pleased to hear that. By the way, I'm Segeria. What's your name?"
"I have no more name."
Those words were still troubling Segeria, as the path had become a trail in the midst of a beech and oak forest. The night was starting to fall, so she stopped her cart near a stream. Her passenger kept looking at her as she was gathering a pile of dry branches.
"Are you making a camp in the forest? Are there no inns?" He ended up asking.
"It's not always possible to sleep in a bed while traveling. You'll have to get used to it."
She prepared and lit up a small fire, then she drew out some water from the stream and picked up some berries to complete the dry food.
"How do you know those are edible?"
That gave her a start. He had followed her and was looking at the berries.
"I gave some to my mare long ago and she's not dead yet" She said, fishing for a reaction.
His eyes opened wide for a moment, but he started laughing and went back to the fire. He was definitely peculiar. With his frail appearance and his loose and flashy clothes, he almost made her think of a butterfly. She waited for him to fall asleep before slipping into her own blanket. He was sleeping on the driver bench, which was a bit rough, but he had insisted on it. He had spent the evening asking questions about everything, and she had to use all her patience to convince him that they had to get up at dawn. It looked like this trip would not be boring.
It was almost noon when they finally came out of the woods. The young man looked like he had a rough night, and was a bit more disheveled than the day before. He was still turning around at every noise coming from behind them. Then, he stiffened and leaned towards Segeria, like he was trying to hide. A few seconds later, a rider went past them without giving them a second look. The merchant sighed as the rider disappeared in a cloud of dust.
"If you don't want to attract suspicion, don't try to hide like that. You're already attracting enough attention with your garb."
The passenger glanced at her, then took a look at his clothes. Then he nodded and jumped out of the cart. Segeria hesitated for a moment, then stopped her mare. She then turned around to see the young man smear dirt all over his clothes. She couldn't help but burst out laughing at this sight. She was just catching her breath when he took back his place on the bench.
"At least I won't be bothered by some dust anymore" he said with a smirk.
"Looks like you're the impulsive kind. But to be honest, you look even more shady like this."
He blushed and bowed his head down. She was taken aback by this reaction.
"Don't worry, I can lend you some clothes. Can't say they'll fit, though."
He raised his head. Suddenly, he looked like a lost child.
"You are right, I don't think before I act, which is why I'm in this predicament."
Shocked by the sadness in his voice, Segeria stayed silent.
"I've never been free to live my life as I wanted. Only expectations and prohibitions. I wanted to see the world, not by looking through a window but firsthand. So I started to hang out with commoners, but my father learned of it. We had an argument that turned sour and he gave me a choice. Accept my fate as heir or disappear from his sight. I took him at his word and I won't go back there. My brother can inherit the title in my place."
He had been looking a bit less tense while he vented, but now that he was finished, he looked at her like a child about to be scolded.
"And what do you want to do with your newfound freedom?" She asked.
He looked surprised by this question.
"I don't really know. I didn't think about it."
She smiled. He was definitely too pure for a noble.
"While you're looking for an answer, you can keep me company on the road."
"You weren't about to abandon me on the side of the road?"
"Only if that's what you want. Client is king." She said with a teasing smile.
"Oh no! Please don't!"
He calmed down, then pondered something. He then turned towards her and extended his hand.
"Segeria, you can call me Traveler."
"Really? Why not Dusty while you're at it?" She said while pointing at his mud-caked clothes.
He had a sincere laugh, the first she had heard from him today.
"Very well, this one is only temporary. I'll find a better name."
She smiled and shook his hand.
|# ? Sep 21, 2020 04:12|
The Last Road Trip
Thranguy fucked around with this message at 06:37 on Jan 5, 2021
|# ? Sep 21, 2020 06:31|
Riding With the Ghost
Destination: some really really olde ruins
Purpose: true love... or is it?
Antivehicular fucked around with this message at 21:38 on Jan 10, 2021
|# ? Sep 21, 2020 08:04|
Somewhere on the the 70
There are only three rules to our annual Tau Kappa Epsilon retreat: you have to start with your feet in an ocean for the starting conference call, you can only travel by personal vehicle, and the last to arrive has to drink one of the cans of Natty Ice stashed in the cabin attic. Vintage 1997. I’d lost once, due to a freak snowstorm in the rockies that forced me to find a hotel in Denver for three days. I still have nightmares about that beer, and I will not lose again.
I start planning my trip weeks in advance. Timing each leg of the journey to the hour. When to hit the cities, when to fill up the tank, and when to stop and grab a bite. This year I have a secret weapon.
“No,” says my secret weapon. “I’m not driving with you to Oklahoma so you can use the carpool lane.” My sister rolls her eyes and goes back to swiping on her phone. She sits in the chair at an impossible angle, something only somebody that lacks a fear of death can pull off.
I take out my wallet. “I’ll pay you five hundred dollars. You can get like, a hundred more stupid tattoos.”
Sarah sticks her tongue out at me. “It’s going to take at least three days each way and that’s less than I’d earn working and sleeping in my own bed. Ask Molly, she’s stupid and poor.”
“You know I’m sure as hell not going to spend a week in the car with loving Molly.” I rub my temples at just the thought. “Jesus, how much does waitressing pay these days?”
“I make good tips.”
“Yet you still live with mom and dad. Fine, a thousand, and we’ll stop at that stupid dog-shaped hotel you keep tweeting about.”
She sits up in her seat. “Dog Bark Park?”
“I don’t know what it’s called.”
“It’s called Dog Bark Park.”
She hops out of her chair and pulls it up on her phone. “See?”
“I don’t care, Sarah, I just want to know if you’re in?”
“You can sleep in his belly and climb up into the reading nook in his nose!” She squeals as she looks through the online photos.
“Is that a yes?”
“I want to stay there two nights. You pay, and two thousand.”
The thought of warm piss sliding down my throat while Luke Westerton laughs like a loving donkey makes me shiver. “Fine, gently caress it, but on the way back. Maybe it’ll be fun.”
We’re just about twenty four hours into our marathon drive when I think maybe I should have asked Molly. I’d have rather listened to her complain nonstop about her kids than hear another one of Sarah’s stupid youtube videos drone on about some utterly alien aspect of Gen Z life.
Sarah isn’t awake from her turn to sleep more than five minutes before she shoves her phone at my face. “Aw, look at these penguins hiking through the forest!”
I glance over only for a second, but it’s enough to kill my night vision and for a split second I can’t see the road. My sleep addled brain over corrects and we hit the soft shoulder going 65. I try to pull the car back onto the road, but the front tire blows out and we skid to a stop in the dirt.
“You ok?” I ask, looking over at my wide-eyed sister.
We get out and walk around the car on shaky legs.
After verifying that it’s a blown tire I turn to Sarah, my adrenaline boiling away and leaving only anger. “You and your stupid loving videos.”
“Sorry,” says Sarah, looking at the ground. “I just wanted to show you something I thought was cute.”
I kick at a rock. “Well it loving wasn’t! Penguins don’t belong in a forest, Sarah! They belong on the ice! It’s not cute, it’s just weird, and you can’t tell the difference because all you do is sit there all day watching those pointless videos, and now they’ve got us trapped out here. But maybe somebody will come by to prank us then maybe you’ll be interested in our situation.” I yawn and rub my eyes. I haven’t slept since we left Seattle. I let Sarah sleep a few extra hours so I wouldn’t have to listen to her dumb videos. Even just thinking of dragging out the spare and changing the tire makes me want to cry. I sit down sideways in the passenger seat, my legs still sticking out of the car and sigh. “Maybe we should just call a tow truck, head back to Denver and get it figured out in the morning.” I swing my legs into the car and lean my head back. “But I think l need to close my eyes for a quick second first.”
I’m jostled awake by the poorly paved roads of some bumfuck highway. I cover my eyes with my hands and put my seat up. “What the gently caress?”
Sarah smiles at me and hands me a bag. “Breakfast burrito, stopped at a drive through a bit ago. Thought you’d wake up then.”
I reach into the bag and take out the burrito. It’s still warm. “You drive all night?”
“Who fixed the tire?”
“I did, silly.”
I laugh. “No, but really. Somebody stop?”
Sarah scowls. She’s got black smears on her face and hands, and one of her knuckles is scabbed over. “I’m not totally useless you know, I know how to change a tire. Well, I do now anyway.”
I take a bite and let out a little involuntary moan, realizing I hadn’t eaten since Denver. “How?”
“Figures. Where are we?”
“Just passed Tulsa.”
I look at the dashboard clock. 9:17 am. “How? Rush hour traffic is nuts, I usually try to hit Tulsa around 11.”
“Carpool lane works even if the other person is sleeping.”
I finish chewing and swallow. “That means we’ll get to Lake Eufaula in a little over an hour.” I wad up the foil in a napkin, lean my head back and smile. “Even earlier than I planned.”
Sarah beams. “Not bad for a useless idiot, huh?”
I blush. “I’m sorry, I was a jerk. How can I make it up to you?”
Sarah laughs. “Uh, you already have. I had to look at your phone to see the directions and I couldn’t help but see the Dog Bark Park reservation. It’s apparently very easy to extend to three nights with only a single click. Fingerprint passwords are a lot like carpool lanes, you could say.”
“Still work while I’m asleep?”
|# ? Sep 21, 2020 10:11|
submissions are closed. I'll still crit your story if you submit late.
|# ? Sep 21, 2020 11:49|
Redemption Crit! Because redemptions are cool and good and should be lauded.
Redemption for week 423
I liked this a lot. I feel like you did an excellent job of pulling me into the mindset of this person, with a lot of little nods to how their increasing seclusion and deteriorating mental state manifested in their world. I think stories like this are always tough-- you end up having to tread a fine line between presenting a character that's interesting and believable in their psychoses, but not so interesting that the reader feels uncomfortable or unwilling to inhabit the character's head, and I feel like this character never became too much. I could see where the story was going pretty much from the introduction of the mandrakes, and although I don't think that's inherently an issue, I do think the story may have benefited from a little more discovery. I liked the foregone conclusion, I thought it was well executed, but I think the story might have had a little more oomph if this felt a touch less like a recounting of events and more like we were watching this character realize what lengths they were willing to go to in order to have their "beautiful" garden.
Overall this was a strong entry, and while it's hard to say if it would have HM'ed in its week, I think it would have been near the top of the pack.
|# ? Sep 21, 2020 15:11|
Week 424 results
take the moon wins with some memorable imagery and a powerful oppressive atmosphere, even though this plays a little loose with the prompt.
magic cactus loses with a story that isn't terrible, but lost points for the "vengeful native" trope and a prose style that rubbed some of the judges the wrong way.
No mentions this week. To quote my co-judge Grandma, "the rest of you are safe. Safe is a bad place!"
Will post crits by the end of the week. take the moon write a prompt please!
|# ? Sep 23, 2020 00:34|
while we wait for take the moon to post a prompt
...here's the week 422 recap for ghost week!, starring The Saddest Rhino, weltlich, and myself.
Rhino provides background and context for each of the ghostly stories. We also talk about the writing in the stories, too! The end features a dramatic reading of GrandmaParty's "The Logistics of it All." Available on the archive or wherever you get your podcasts.
Special thanks to MockingQuantum for editing these recaps.
|# ? Sep 23, 2020 02:22|
thunderdome 425: THE AGONY OF CASTRATION/THE BLUE LANDSCAPE OF THE BLISS
this site had a dank writer once named zack parsons who wrote an article last in february of this year and then? died? who knows, but whatever. one fun thing he did once was write a novel called liminal states which blew my freakin mind when i was like in high school iirc. i happen to be staring at my copy currently which i was doing when desperately trying to think of a prompt
this may be a failure but post up and i’ll flip the book open to a page at random and choose a prompt-y sentence. this sentence is your prompt. i’m having a hard time thinking of a flash also so if you ask for a flash you get a jack kerouac haiku at random and 500 more words. yeah, your wc is 1000 words and your bonus flash wc is 1500 words, which seems chill.
yes kerouac and parsons, two of the all-time greats imo
same rules as usual
enter by midnight friday est. sub by midnight sunday est. if this is unclear ask for clarification.
title from page 425 of my softcover copy of liminal states
take the moon fucked around with this message at 14:06 on Sep 26, 2020
|# ? Sep 23, 2020 02:34|
|# ? Sep 23, 2020 02:41|
sure. im down for some bibliomancy
count me in
EDIT: Flash me too bb
QuoProQuid fucked around with this message at 13:23 on Sep 23, 2020
|# ? Sep 23, 2020 02:41|
|# ? Sep 23, 2020 02:42|
I'll judge too i tink
|# ? Sep 23, 2020 02:49|
|# ? Sep 23, 2020 02:56|
|# ? Sep 23, 2020 03:10|
casting my fates to the wind
|# ? Sep 23, 2020 03:29|
|# ? Sep 23, 2020 03:49|
|# ? Sep 23, 2020 04:34|
gotta redeem myself for a well-deserved loss. In, flash.
|# ? Sep 23, 2020 04:43|
|# ? Sep 23, 2020 04:47|
apologies! a literal gust of wind locked me out my room with the keys, my phone, my posting rig and the books still inside. i know thats kind of a big deal with one of these kinds of setups.
"The shooting fireballs were like live animals, crazy with pain and desperate to escape the holocaust." (page 219)
sure. im down for some bibliomancy
"'Someday we may become friends, but not yet. Until you realize the futility of what you are doing, we cannot reconcile.'" (page 115)
"Vast, dwarfing the four cooling towers, seemingly constructed from spurs of steel and acres of green glass." (page 316)
The mind of the flower
regards my mind
"Dead batteries, packets of soy sauce, and a Stillman holdout in the drawer." (page 283)
"'When I touch her... each piece of her, each toe and finger, each lock of hair, each pickled morsel fills me with longing darkened with sorrow.'" (pages 283-84)
The sound of silence
is all the instruction
casting my fates to the wind
"Praise her and answer this TREASON with VIOLENCE." (page 378)
"'No. I don't know what those symbols are. I just put them how I remembered them.'" (page 231)
Ah, the crickets
at the moon
gotta redeem myself for a well-deserved loss. In, flash.
"There was a long-ago dream, forgotten until this moment, of creatures like this, stitched and restitched, howling as they charged across a twilit battlefield zippered with trenches, slagged emplacements, and shell-pocked bunkers." (page 350)
August Moon Universe
"'You can't look at me like a piece of meat all day and then lecture me like I'm a child.'" (page 233.)
My Christ blinds
I'm reading about Virgin
k. i was debating letting people get a re-roll if they didnt like what i gave them since im not sure what im doing. but that breaks kayfabe i guess right. instead, prompt status: loose af. go absolutely nuts. if i ding you for not obeying the prompt itll take a lot of disregard. just try and make the themes stick
|# ? Sep 23, 2020 13:23|
EDIT: Flash me too bb
The trees are putting on
|# ? Sep 23, 2020 13:35|
|# ? Sep 23, 2020 14:22|
oh shoot my bad. i did like 10 posts and missed you. ill hit you up second im home from work
|# ? Sep 23, 2020 14:37|
|# ? Sep 23, 2020 16:42|
"He smiled and said like I already should know, 'The future.'" (page 198)
"The branches of salt trees and shrubs were heavy with sprouting fungus, leaves and trunks stained white with disease." (page 368)
|# ? Sep 23, 2020 22:55|
I accept, being of sound mind and fully aware of the potential consequences of failure.
|# ? Sep 24, 2020 11:59|
Yeah I hosed up.
Rather than ban me and have me give $10 to the woman-beater, pick a charity and I'll donate $20 and post a screenshot.
|# ? Sep 24, 2020 16:27|
Acceptable. You choose.
|# ? Sep 24, 2020 19:34|
Yeah I hosed up.
BTW, for anyone who is concerned about this:
As noted at the top of the OP (next to the flashing sirens), all toxxes can be fulfilled with charitable donations. Thank you. https://www.rainn.org/ is a good one!
|# ? Sep 24, 2020 20:35|
I can't get the image to post in preview but here's a link.
|# ? Sep 24, 2020 20:52|
I thought I was done with this poo poo-show after two gimmick accounts failed to take my brawl challenge seriously. Lucky for you all, I enjoy the work of the fine Mr. Parsons. I'm in.
|# ? Sep 25, 2020 07:29|
I thought I was done with this poo poo-show after two gimmick accounts failed to take my brawl challenge seriously. Lucky for you all, I enjoy the work of the fine Mr. Parsons. I'm in.
"The real business was underground, in subterranean vaults kept cool and breezy by the humming air conditioners on the roof." (page 187)
|# ? Sep 25, 2020 13:10|
|# ? Sep 25, 2020 17:58|
|# ? Sep 26, 2020 01:05|
|# ? Oct 4, 2022 20:12|
"'I want you to put these people in a room and fill them with holes until their loving hearts stop pumping blood.'" (page 361)
"I was doubled up and drooling blood into the white-lit surf." (page 201)
|# ? Sep 26, 2020 01:18|