oh yea subs closed. happy writing goons :)
|# ? Sep 26, 2020 04:21|
|# ? Oct 7, 2022 22:53|
"Praise her and answer this TREASON with VIOLENCE." (page 378)
Short and Sweet
I fiddle with my after-dinner mint while the din of the other diners masks the siren call of my heart. My date, Jackie is in the powder room, and I’m ready to tell her I love her. This will be both our first, and last date.
I hear the jingle of Jackie’s bracelets and smell her perfume long before I see her. The intoxicating combination of oxytocin and bergamot pushes me down into my seat.
“So, short stuff. What’s next?”
Short stuff, a pet name, and a unique one at that. I’m taller than her, and I’ve always been taller than girls in my class. Hope swells in me and before I give myself time to chicken out, I take my shot.
“Jackie, I love you.”
The words don’t squeak out, as I worried they might while I considered this move with my time alone. Instead, they charge forth and slap Jackie into shock.
Her mouth hangs open, as she stares at me.
“I don’t want to waste time,” I tell her. “I hate dating, I just hate it. You’re the first person I’ve told this too so quickly, I promise. Just please, say something.”
“You horrible, bitch.”
Jackie doesn’t say it, our neighbor to the left does. He’s a burly man, with a John-Deere hat on. He steps up from his steak dinner, pulls the knife out of his sirloin, and shoves it into my side.
“Who does that?” He leers at me.
Jackie regains some of her composure as I sit there, bleeding and clutching my side.
“I appreciate that you told me. You took a shot. I don’t think I’ve ever had the guts to do something like that.”
I pull the knife out and drop it on the floor. I squeeze my hands onto the wound and feel the blood rush through my fingers.
“But what do you expect me to say?” She says, with a frown.
The next stab comes in the back, courtesy of an eleven-year-old girl dining with her parents.
“I hope I don’t turn out like you,” she whispers in my ear, as she twists the handle.
“Come on sweetie,” her father says as he takes her hand. “You don’t have to watch something so disgusting.”
“I don’t know,” I look at Jackie. “Something? How are you feeling?”
“It’s just a date, short stuff.” The pet name feels like a thousand fresh daggers. “It’s supposed to be fun, no pressure.”
“Dating is fun for you?” I plead.
“Well sure,” she says. “It’s not for you?”
I have no answer for her, and I only wish that her bravery in the face of this didn’t win me over even more.
Our waiter arrives with the check, and a net.
“Don’t mind me,” he says to Jackie. As he throws it over me. “This won’t take but a minute.”
He cinches it tight and slings me over his shoulder. He walks over the wall of the restaurant, kicks it, and it falls down and away revealing that we’re on a precipice overlooking blackness.
Blood trickles down my back as I admit defeat, and he hurls me into the abyss.
“So!” Jackie says as she looks at me with eyes that melt my heart. “What next short stuff?”
I pop the after-dinner in my mouth and force a smile. “Mini-golf?”
|# ? Sep 27, 2020 20:35|
"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
MockingQuantum fucked around with this message at 05:50 on Jan 5, 2021
|# ? Sep 27, 2020 22:02|
"The real business was underground, in subterranean vaults kept cool and breezy by the humming air conditioners on the roof." (page 187)
Word Count: 1000 words
To get to her, you have to knife past the nurse drones with their cool bluelit orifici, past the wide, prehensile embrace of their shock arms; you have to flee the drones on your engineered feet, long, rubbery rabbitish things that pongpongpongpong across electrified steel mesh as you run; you have to navigate a labyrinth wherein most passages lead to abrupt death; you have to leap the chasm that separates the central sarcophagus from the surrounding death trap of a facility; you have to spread your surgically elongated arms, unfurling the massive membrane of nanocarbon-reinforce skin that runs from your wrists to your ankles, and glide on bat wings to the frigid heart of heaven.
You do all that. With a white rose clenched in your teeth.
The sarcophagus is a cylinder the size of a skyscraper stabbed deep into the crust of the earth, protected from ingress by the citysized security facility through which you just booked it. You feel the size of it now, standing on the small landing before the final door. You’ve always felt its hugeness, even when you were a kid. It pulled at you in those moments just before sleep, a hungry gravity that threatened to drag you from your bed, through the floor, down into the earth, to the dark unspeakable nadir of heaven.
You’re not a kid now. You understand why the sarcophagus exists, and why she who sleeps inside must always rest. The world died eons ago, in fire and salt. Your ancestors laid the sleeper down on her slab, reawakening the lost world inside her dreams. And then they, too, died, incapable of following her into the new world.
She’s your mother. She’s your life. She is your cause and your reason. Her sainted face is projected on the sides of buildings, used as an icon on user interfaces. And she’s alone in this revoltingly dark, expansive place. You can’t stand the thought of it, the desolation of it.
The door to her room slides open, something shruggish in its disposition, like the door is saying well, you got this far. You’re clearly not going away until you get what you want, so get on with it.
And there she is, resting atop the surgical looking slab, cocooned in interlocking plates of a metal you don’t recognize. You take a step into the room then stop, seized by vertigo. The rose stem is still between your teeth. You flatten it with your molars.
The floor beneath your feet is transparent, revealing a second, identical room, where rests an identical dreamer in her sheath of metal, soft face visible through a round porthole in the cocoon. And below that, another room. Another sainted dreamer. And another. And another.
You raise your eyes to the ceiling, see above you the dark footprint of a slab. You know with the certainty of dreaming that these are the same rooms, the same saint, and you feel betrayed. Cheapened. One dream of one world is special; there is a poetry to it. But what you see here is a dream of a dreamer dreaming countless dreams into infinity. You are transformed. A moment ago you were the beloved child of heaven. Now you can only see yourself like a pawn in a sim.
The white rose falls from your mouth. It dawns on you that you don’t know what would happen if you woke this dreamer. Something apocalyptic, you think. You hope.
You keep your eyes fixed on the slab as you approach. Looking up or down will undo you. The protective scales of metal surrounding the dreamer shiver with color, little runs of teal and pink and moss slithering over the faint whorls of texture in otherwise gunmetal skin. Your mind is so ready to believe that this cocoon is unassailable, that the sainted dreamer has dreamed into existence a material that cannot be penetrated by any means.
A childish quip runs through your mind. If it’s so unbreakable, why didn’t she make the whole facility out of it?
And you understand that there is no metal sheath around the dreamer. It’s a desperate trick of the psyche, a final security measure against the exact thing you are preparing yourself to do.
You extend a hand, the wing membrane stretching with it, and touch the cocoon. Except you don’t touch the cocoon; there’s nothing there. Your fingertips pass through the illusion of metal. This hits you like a second betrayal. After everything you went through to get to her, the surgeries and the grafts and the training and the drilling, destroying her dreams is as simple as seeing through a stupid trick?
You hate her. You hate her so much. You hate yourself for loving her, and by extension, for loving yourself.
You can’t see your fingertips but you can tell they’re hovering just over her skin, somewhere around her knee maybe. A good sharp rap on the knee would wake anyone up. Your face gashes open, a dystonic grin. What a stupid, perfect way for the world to end.
There is the impression of motion above and below you. Everything in you is screaming do it just do it doitdo it now. In spite of yourself, you look up.
And see yourself looking down at you, this other self poised on the edge of apocalypse. And above them, another self, and another, and another, and so on. Below your feet, you look up at yourself, your face stricken with hate and anguish.
In every world, in every dream, a you, arriving here at this moment of betrayal. In every world a reckoning, with you as the reckoner.
After a long time, you withdraw your hands from the cocoon and retrieve the fallen white rose. You lay it atop the dreamer’s metal sheath, which you now know is harder than diamond. A final, true layer of protection, imbued by the dream onto the dreamer.
|# ? Sep 27, 2020 22:22|
Prompt: “No. I don’t know what those symbols are. I just put them how I remembered them.”
Ah, the crickets
at the moon.
Seamus stood on the top of Moon Hill and stared with trepidation at the empty horizon. He’d aced his final exam, making the moon come up should be a cinch. Moon Hill was loud with the singing of crickets, its top worn down to smooth dirt by the gumboots of countless wizards who trudged up its muddy sides every dusk to make the moon rise. Seamus shook back the sleeves of his heavy woollen bushshirt, brandished the communal owl-feathered night wand, and said the magic words.
Seamus felt sweat run from his armpits and down his ribs under his singlet, despite the cold night air that ruffled the hairs on his bare legs. He knew the words were right. He’d memorised the sounds, perfected their cadence. He could write extensive essays on their etymology in under three hours with neat handwriting. He could do this. Seamus rubbed his elbows against his sides to warm his clammy pits and stretched his neck to one side until it gave a satisfying click. He took a deep breath, pointed the wand, straight-armed, at the spot from whence the moon would momentarily rise, and—
“Seamus!” Anna appeared from the path that lead back to their dorm. Seamus couldn’t see her face in the faint starlight, but the silhouette of her frizzy red hair was unmistakable. “I brought you some pudding.” Anna plopped herself down on a thick patch of kikuyu grass, set Seamus’ bowl down beside her, and hoed into her fruit salad and ice cream.
“Go on then,” she said, waving her spoon at the surrounding sheep paddocks. “The crickets will lose their poo poo if the moon doesn’t come up soon.”
Cold sweat prickled Seamus’ scalp. Anna was the last person he wanted to see here. Not literally, of course; she was his girlfriend. But he couldn’t bear the thought of Anna discovering he was a fraud. That he didn’t believe in magic. Never had. Seamus just rote-learnt the words and did the finger sigils correctly and the spells worked. But Anna, she said she could feel the magic moving in her bones.
gently caress, gently caress, gently caress. Anna was watching him. Seamus cleared his throat, and with a frown of concentration, shouted, “Get up, Moon!”
The horizon lightened not even a little bit.
Seamus let his breath out in a tight stream through his nose. He spun to face Anna. Her face was hidden in shadow. “Look,” he said, his face hot. “Would you mind, like, not watching, or something?”
“You’re too tense,” she replied. “It’s so dark I can’t even see you and I can still tell.”
“I’m trying to concentrate!” The crickets were getting louder, Anna wasn’t wrong about the poor insects getting agitated. They must be hungry.
“I’m just trying to help. And your ice-cream is melting.”
“I didn’t ask you to bring me bloody ice-cream! Just let me get this done and I’ll see you back at your room.”
“Who said you were coming back to my room?”
Seamus rolled his eyes, at once pissed off and glad that Anna couldn’t see his face. His heart was pounding. This was loving stupid. He turned deliberately away from Anna and squared his shoulders at the horizon.
“Get up, Moon!” he shouted, but his form was all over the place and the spell didn’t even make it past the wand’s tip. Seamus couldn’t feel any magic, not now, not ever. All the time he’d spent memorising spells was a joke, and sooner or later Anna was going to realise that so was he.
“For goodness sake.” Anna put down her bowl and spoon with a clatter and marched to the center of the Hill. She was wearing robes over her hiking boots, despite the fact that the tassels trailed in the mud. She spread her arms, not even bothering to take out her wand, and lifted her face, beatifically, to the stars.
“Anna, I’m supposed to be the one who--”
“Get up, Moon,” Anna breathed. A wave of phosphorescence rolled down her arms and little motes of light floated from the tips of her fingers like fireflies.
Seamus thought Anna’s face looked beautiful in the soft glow. Beautiful, and infuriating. How did she do that?
He paused, one foot poised to begin stomping off back to his dorm room, when he realised it was still pitch black. The moon was not getting up.
“Huh, this is harder than it looks,” Anna said. She got out her wand, ready for a second attempt.
“Wait,” said Seamus. “You got the tones wrong. It goes up on the first beat, then down, then the last word is third tone, you know, starts low, then down and up, but not all the way up?”
“How do you remember all that?” Anna replied. “I just go with how I think the words should sound...”
The crickets were really screaming now. The wan starlight barely reached the bobbing seed heads where the crickets clung, waiting.
“poo poo, it’s getting pretty late,” said Seamus. He shivered, despite his bushshirt. “What are we going to do?”
Anna tugged her sleeve-ends, a nervous tick. “Together?”
Seamus nodded, cheeks hot.
“On three? One, two--”
“No! I’ll say it. You do... the other thing.”
Seamus felt more than saw Anna’s smile in the darkness. She laced her fingers through his. Seamus didn’t believe in magic, but with Anna’s warm hand in his he felt his heart rate slow. His hearing sharpened and instead of a single distressed whine he could hear each individual cricket, urging him to hurry up, hurry up. He took a deep breath and his nostrils filled with trampled earth and kikuyu and the sticky-sweat scent of canned fruit salad.
Seamus nailed it. Each word, pitch perfect and crystal clear. Anna squeezed his hand and let out a tiny whoop as a silver glow lit the horizon. The crickets opened their carapaces and bathed themselves in the spreading moonlight. The multitude glowed, lighting up the paddocks that surrounded Moon Hill like phosphorescence spreading across water.
Anna did a twirl, arms outstretched, so that her robes swirled around her. “Yuss!” she said.
“Ugh, my ice-cream’s melted,” said Seamus, poking at the watery white liquid in which his fruit salad now floated.
Anna stepped in, very close to him. She held one palm over the bowl, fingers splayed, and whispered something. Seamus felt a shock of cold through his fingers as his ice-cream re-froze.
“Better?” said Anna.
Lumps of pear and pineapple were now encased in solid cream like rocks trapped in an ice-flow. The spoon’s handle jutted up like the mast of some lost ship.
“Much better,” said Seamus, and he leaned forward and kissed her.
|# ? Sep 27, 2020 23:36|
Prompt: "The shooting fireballs were like live animals, crazy with pain and desperate to escape the holocaust." (page 219)
A Bright Child
With a snap of her fingers, a small wisp of smoke bloomed, rose, and dissipated a few centimeters above her hand. Was there a brief flash of light? Pauline wasn't certain, but she thought there might have been. Taking in a deep breath through her nose and savoring the acrid tang, she hunted for the tell-tale sharp scent of ozone. She sighed – no ignition this time.
“Your mother and Doctor Hoffmann would be very cross if they knew what you were up to,” said Mitzi, looking on with disapproval. She hopped onto the comforter of Pauline's bed, nestled her self between two pillows, and tucked her paws under her chest primly.
“I won't tell if you won't,” Pauline replied impishly to the cat. “Besides, I've watched mom do it hundreds of times.”
Another faint plume of smoke rose from her fingertips as she snapped again. Mitzi narrowed her eyes, taking a moment to formulate an appeal to the headstrong young girl. Her math homework studiously ignored, Pauline sat at her desk and looked at her middle finger and thumb, instead. She saw how the faint ridges of her fingerprints were slowly, but surely growing back, replacing the layer of skin that she had ablated away in her attempt to spark a stable flame. Each whorl stood out in bright pink against her normally fair skin, and the tenderness made holding her pencil uncomfortable.
“Your mother has had years of training, and knows her limits well,” Mitzi purred, “I appreciate your dedication to practice, but supervision is mandatory for everyone's safety. Now please, sweety, back to your school work.”
Pauline frowned, and watched the callouses form. Her pencil no longer an instrument of pain, she resumed doing long division problems for the next half hour. Instead of the physical discomfort, she was plagued by the mental anguish of being forced to confront the mundane when the fantastic was literally at her fingertips. Yes, she sort of understood why her mom and Dr. Hoffmann had forbidden her from practicing alone, but it was such an unfair demand. It was nothing but a little smoke and occasionally a small spark of flame. Why make such a fuss about safety when there wasn't any real danger in the first place?
Heaving a great sigh, she put down her pencil and rubbed her eyes. Mitzi leapt from the bed to the desk, landing without a sound, and began to read over her homework.
“How did I do?” Pauline asked.
“Well, I would not say you have completed the assignment,” Mitzi said, patting a problem which the girl had done a particularly poor job of solving, “But, considering that it is already past your bed time, I think it is fair to say that you have finished the assignment.”
“Can I try once more?” Pauline grinned, holding up her thumb and middle finger, rubbing them together suggestively.
“Oh,” Mitzi replied. “I really wish you wouldn't. There will be plenty of practice time for that tomorrow, with proper –”
Pauline cut her off with a snap. This time the familiar puff of smoke was accompanied by a bright spark, and in that moment, the tip of her middle finger was aflame. Staring wide-eyed at the fire that burned white hot, yet caused her no pain, Pauline marveled at the first true ignition she'd managed to conjure up.
“Put it out! Put it out!” Hissed Mitzi, her back arched and tail bristling. Pauline snapped out of her reverie and waved her hand about in the air, the sudden movement and loss of concentration managing to snuff the fire. With the absence of the flame, the skin of her fingertip became raw and red, and ached dully.
“Ohmigosh!” Pauline shrieked triumphantly, “Did you see it, Mitzi? I did it!”
“Yes. You did it. And you must never do it again, unless Dr. Hoffman is there to make sure of your safety, young lady,” the cat responded curtly while smoothing down the fur of her tail. But, Pauline was lost in wonder. She looked at her hand in sheer fascination, watching the skin knit back together and feeling the ache recede into memory.
“Come now, let's brush your teeth and get ready for bed,” commanded Mitzi, and she hopped down and walked toward the bathroom, with her tail high. Behind her, she heard another snap, and she wheeled around to see the girl conjuring fire again. “No, Pauline. You must stop that this instant. You don't have proper control.”
But, this time Pauline was not listening. She gazed into the little flame and willed it to grow larger, and it responded in kind. Soon, all the fingertips on her right hand were glowing, their mass burning away into a heat so intense that barely any smoke was produced. When the conflagration reached her knuckles, they separated and flew off as tiny balls of fire, two landing on her bed to smolder on the fire retardant comforter, and the others falling on her desk and igniting her stack of homework.
“Pauline!” Mitzi yowled, “You must stop, now!”
“I...I can't.” Was all Pauline could say before the flames took her.
The smoke from the desk was enough to finally set off the alarm and sprinklers, but it was too late. Pauline burned so incredibly hot and fast, that the water did little more than prevent the fire from spreading to the rest of the room.
By the time Dr. Hoffmann was able to get inside, the last embers had died. She only found Mitzi, weeping by a pile of ashes in a puddle – the water and the cat's tears slowly turning them to mud.
|# ? Sep 27, 2020 23:56|
Prompt:"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
The Arborist's Liederkreis
[b]Word Count: 1031
The guards wake him from his cell at 8 am on a Saturday, and he immediately suspects something is up. They wave the usual shiv check, even forget to check if he’d taken his stabilizer. The cell yard is quiet, and the air has the chill of the first frost of winter piercing through his thin orange jumpsuit, shocking him awake. They hustle him down the anonymous hallways to the Warden’s office. He’s standing there with a woman, blonde, 30’s, right out of the stims Wirejack would sell you for a quart of scummo, and he finds it hard not to stare. The room is warm, and the warmth makes it hard to focus. The warden’s voice sings radio Babylon, and he fishes fragments from the static: test case, rehabilitation experimental procedure Something about branches on a timeline, trimming the tree. He nods, still half asleep, and signs the paperwork in a daze, the glare of white light on white paper making him feel snowblind.
The warden and the girl are gone. There is only a void. Points of light on an infinite plane. Spheres now, white, floating, trailing something behind them. The slip into him with waves of butter knife-dull pressure. The void begins to change, constructing itself. Splashes of grey. Light. Shadow. Depth. Ground. Figure. He sees himself moving toward the corner store. A gun in his pocket and murder in his heart. The door opens. The cashier is standing there. He fires once and hops the counter to take bills out the till. The cashier’s corpse twitches beside him, birthing a sea of red on the tile floor.
There is only a void. Points of light on an infinite plane. Lines of white crystalize to bone, enveloped by pink skin. The same scene as before, but this time he feels the weight of the gun in his hands; light, free, man and machine in union. He goes up to the cashier, cocks the hammer, pulls the trigger. Watches the paper doll crumple. He fires again and the scene changes. He is standing in front of a block of marble, hammer in one hand, chisel in the other, called to sing the truth from the stone. The work is slow. Every tap of the chisel reverberates up his arm, every chip and crack cakes his hands in fine powder. His hands hurt. The knuckles sting and throb, the skin is rough and calloused. He looks upon his finished song and smiles, the pain in his hands same as the pride in his heart.
There is only a void. Points of light on an infinite plain. Lines of white crystalize to bone, flooded by pink skin. He is walking to the corner store, the gun in his pocket. The cashier is standing behind the counter. He pulls the gun from his pocket. It’s heavy. He needs two hands to steady it, the trigger feeling like a solid block of marble, the report ripping his ear drums open as he bites back a scream. The paper doll crumples again and he is over the counter, fishing notes from the till, stuffing them in his pockets hollow man style. Out the door now, he is flying, skidding on ice and he trips, slices his calf on the edge of a dumpster but he picks himself back up until—
There is only a void. Points of light on an infinite plain. This time he is behind the counter. The fleshcage of his body extends out in front of him, and he cannot move his legs. Every step is agony, his hip joins grinding against themselves like a stuck gear, and his knees are on fire. His kid’s photograph stares out at him from its place on the till. His fleshcage too, is weak, and he blinks back tears as he tries to consider just what kind of a life the chaos will etch in his bones. The money he makes, he gives to the doctors, who sing him sour hymns and beautiful lies.
A man comes in, the buzz of the door alarm sounding too loud, and he covers his ears. There’s a flash like a lightbulb burning out and he feels a sea spread inside him, and then there is only a void.
There is only a void. Points of light on an infinite plain. He is watching the sun through a bedroom window. The cold twisted metal of the wheelchair matches the cold in his twisted legs, so that he feels like permafrost. The phone rings too loud. He begins to wheel himself over, his shriveled arms making small deliberate movements, He almost misses it, but he fumbles the receiver into his arms and thumbs the button, listens to the deathsong. He cries, not out of sadness, but out of fear.
There is only a void. Points of light on an infinite plain. He is once again heading toward the corner store. The gun in his pocket neither heavy nor light. The cashier is behind the counter, and he can see now how he grips the counter for support, feels the scrape of bone on bone as he turns to greet himself. He sights in and places his finger on the trigger, and as he looks down the barrel into his own eyes he feels permafrost again. His hands ache. The knuckles sting and throb, the skin is rough and calloused. This is not was he was called fourth to sing from the stone. He tries to leave but his legs have become cold and twisted, and as he crumples the cashier catches him, helps him get bearings, helps him to the door. He glances into his own eyes, and understands now what he will sing.. His legs are warm again. Through tears the snowblind sky seems to stretch on forever. The marble song calls to him but he doesn’t want to answer, remembers a lonely man trapped in a cage of permafrost, and he places the gun in his mouth, tasting sour gunmetal and lubricant as he puts his aching hands on the trigger.
There is only a void.
Points of light.
On an infinite plain.
|# ? Sep 28, 2020 00:09|
DANCE OR DIE
Tyrannosaurus fucked around with this message at 21:27 on Jan 8, 2021
|# ? Sep 28, 2020 01:55|
Prompt: "The branches of salt trees and shrubs were heavy with sprouting fungus, leaves and trunks stained white with disease." (page 368)
Dead on Arrival
The laztorch hums sweetly in my grip as I push the business end into his chest and pull upward. His leathery flesh offers no resistance, burning and crisping as I carve through his rib cage, finishing though his neck. His head teeters, levers backwards off his torso, and falls to the metal floor with a wet crunch.
gently caress that guy. I dated him, briefly. Before. A half-assed attempt at camaraderie before we hit heliopause and dropped into cryosleep. He talked a lot about football, his ex-husband, and always stuck me with the bill.
Yeah, gently caress him.
I adjust my mask and step over his remains. The mask seal is tight. The air in the engineering room is clouded with milky spores searching for a way inside, trying to infect me like the rest of the crew. Not today. I glove the keypad next to the door and it irises open, revealing a hallway beyond, glowing soft with pink emergency lights. No poo poo it’s an emergency. Still two centuries away from Proxima Centauri and a fungal infection wipes out the algae pools. The arkship computer freaks out and wakes everyone up, only some of us got infected too. The fungal spores invaded the cryosleep brine, and some unlucky souls woke up different. Hungry.
But not me. I try not to think about what I saw in the cryosleep bay, pods torn open and wires and entrails and chunks of strewn flesh, barely thawed. A web of gore picked over by spindly human forms leaking white fluid from every orifice. I close my eyes to stem a rising nausea and move on.
Forward. There’s no other direction left to go.
A sign on the wall points towards Horticulture down the hall. I know this; one advantage to being assigned custodial crew is that I’ve gone over just about every nook and cranny aboard the ship. I creep over debris and remains under the pulsing lights. The mask blocks some of the smell. Small victories. My laztorch beeps, indicating low charge.
The soft snick of an irising door sounds to my left, and I spin as another zombie tumbles towards me, jaw agape. This one’s the Admiral’s son, and yes, I briefly dated him too. His smooth skin and buttery lips are now covered with milky foam, infected like everyone else on the arkship. I key the laztorch and it’s over quickly. At least he paid for dinner.
I move to the end of the hall. The door to Horticulture is jammed open by an erupting mass of twisted roots covered in white fuzz. I tighten my mask and move inside, clambering over the slick tendrils. The half-gravity of the arkship makes my movements clumsy.
The algae pools are dried up, replaced by tangled nests of reticulated, twitching tendrils. The fungus pulses with energy. Each ropy hyphae twirls towards the center to form a colossal central mass. Three female forms sit before the mass, each connected through a thick white tendril sprouting from the back of their heads. They rise in unison as I enter the lab.
Their voices ring out: "Assimilation is essential. Assimilation is inevitable."
“Yeah, that’s not loving happening,” I say, slipping my pack off my back.
"The Mycelium requires it. Submit, or become fuel."
I drop my pack at my feet. The central mass quivers, then disgorges a mist of white froth my direction. I duck and it splatters the wall behind me. The three infected females approach with jerky motions, but the tether that leashes them to the central mass pulls taut. They stretch against their restraint, making the frustrated keening of predators whose prey is beyond reach. From the pack I pull out my prize: a small kernel of antimatter I pulled from the engineering bay. It’s secure within a magnetic lead containment sphere: round, about the size of baseball. Fits perfectly in my hand.
The central mass pulses again, but before it can spurt more diseased fluids I pull out my second prize: a roll of duct tape. Using it, I secure the containment sphere to the end of the laztorch, and flip its lever to auto. A blue flame flickers to life. Barely. The last dregs of charge have reduced it to a faint echo of full power. The flame starts to cut through the sphere surrounding the antimatter. I hope it’s enough. With the antimatter cell firmly attached to the business end of the laztorch, I look up just as another blast of white liquid jets towards me. Rolling to the side on slippery fungal tendrils, I toss the package towards the alien mass.
There’s no time to watch the results; I turn and run as fast as the half gravity allows me. Down the hall back through engineering, trying to put as many doors between me and Horticulture as possible. There’s more zombies, veined hands reaching for me as I push past, but I weave and dodge their attacks until I arrive at my destination: the hangar. Rows upon rows of landing vehicles spread before me, designed to ferry us down to the surface of the Earth-like planet orbiting Proxima Centauri. Well, that sure as gently caress isn’t happening now.
Five minutes later I’m floating through space as a mammoth detonation tears through the the starboard wing of the arkship. Fragments of metal explode outward, but I’ve positioned the launch so that the main bulk of the arkship protects me from the debris.
With a heavy sigh I push the throttle forward. It’s time to do what I’m trained for: I’m a space janitor, and now there’s some serious loving cleaning up to do.
|# ? Sep 28, 2020 02:24|
Prompt: "Dead batteries, packets of soy sauce, and a Stillman holdout in the drawer." (page 283)
Every Christmas in my house started the same way. My father would come in to kiss me and my younger brother awake before going to work. And each year, we would whine at him, dreading the prospect of a full day home alone with each other. Christmas for us wasn’t a big deal; we celebrated Chanukah, anyway.
The year I turned 14, the entire family had somehow decided Chanukah was too much to deal with. Instead of eight nights, our family celebrated one lackluster night. I got some new clothes and a couple of cds. My aunt gave me a kiss and told me that was my present. Nothing like the enormous haul everyone imagines eight days of presents would be.
That Christmas, when my Dad came into my room to wake me up, I didn’t roll over and tell him goodbye. I sat in my blankets, breathing cold air and pretending to sleep. He came and tried to shake me awake and I refused to turn over.
“Don’t be like that,” he said.
“Come on,” he said, sitting on the bed. “Give your old man a hug. It’s going to be a long day.”
“Do you really have to go, Dad?” I said from inside my fortress.
“Jacob,” he said, “Nothing’s open. And we could always use the extra money. Besides, we’re not Christmas people.”
I muttered something about how we weren’t Chanukah people either. He laughed at me. I can still remember the way he laughed, one of those parent laughs, the kind that knows what actual worries and problems were like. For a thin, angular man, he had the laugh of a lumberjack.
“Tell you what. Show me what I’m missing and we’ll see about fixing it.”
“What do you mean?”
“You want a Christmas, make me a Christmas. I’ll be home at eight. Let’s see what you and your brother can do.”
“Where are we going to get presents?” I asked him.
“That’s your problem to figure out,” he said.
When I got up three hours later, I grabbed my eight year-old brother Carl. He was at that stage where I was more of his babysitter than his friend, but we still had fun together on rare occasions. When I told him what Dad had told me, he started bouncing with excitement. We had grown accustomed to a litany of Christmas specials even though we never really celebrated ourselves. We knew all the words to A Christmas Story by heart. But the question remained: how did we show our father what he was missing?
“We need presents,” my brother said.
“Where are we going to get them?”
He thought for a moment and ran to his closet before he handed me one of my old Ninja Turtle action figures.
“Last year, you gave me this and you already had it.”
“So sometimes good presents aren’t new,” he said.
“You want to give dad old presents?”
“It’s either that or we try to make him new presents.”
My brother had somehow cut himself with safety scissors earlier that year while making construction paper turkeys. Any construction on his part would have to be tape or glue, and even then, there was a good chance of him gluing his fingers together.
“Let’s give him things we already have. And don’t let me see yours. We’ll make it fun for us, too,” he said. Carl gave me a big jack-o-lantern smile and a thumbs up before he ran off.
I went right for the junk drawer we kept under the stove. All of the weird odds and ends seemed to wind up in that drawer. On the top were a couple dead batteries and a mountain of soy sauce packets. I grabbed them, leaving Dad’s secret bottle of Stillman nestled in the bottom of the drawer.
My brother had already run outside where he shoveled leaves into an old shoebox. I saw him through the window, giggling while he gathered them up. He stopped to ponder a dried-up dog turd and decided against it. He saw me watching through the window.
“Don’t look!” he yelled.
“If I get that dog turd, I’m gonna make you eat it!” I yelled through the glass.
We both scrambled around the house, grabbing everything that could make our dad laugh. My batteries and soy sauce packets became a chunky robot making an oil puddle. My brother’s box of leaves became a hunting diorama, complete with his construction paper turkeys. And while he had never wrapped presents before, his ugly, lumpy presents spoke to the love he put into them. They were more tape than paper. After we had wrapped everything worthwhile in the house, we watched reruns of the same Christmas movies we had seen the year before.
Our father came home to find us cuddled up on the couch, a pile of presents waiting for him. He had brought us Chinese food, even though he hated it.
When he opened each gift, he would light up and pretend to be grateful, no matter how bad the gift was. When he opened my brother’s square, squishy present to discover a bologna sandwich, he took a huge bite even though it had been sitting out for hours. He loved my robot and placed it above the fireplace, where it stayed for years. It didn’t even matter that the soy sauce had dripped out of the wrapping paper and onto his pants.
Every year going forward, we made it a point to celebrate Christmas. The only rule was, “No buying gifts.” And even though my brother and I sometimes missed the flight home for Chanukah, I could always count on receiving an ugly, lumpy package from him and my father for garbage Christmas.
|# ? Sep 28, 2020 02:34|
"'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
The symbols carved into the door, etchings filled with silver-steel were power, nothing less. I could not speak or read the Aracane language, did not even know such a thing existed. The words cared not. The meaning went straight to my bones, echoing through the marrow up my spine and into my skull. This place is sealed, for the good of all. You will find no treasures here but only the calmed terror of death. Go, and do not return.
My first impulse was to come back with a good hard knife and prize out the metal. But something inside me told me that I would not find this door again, that if I somehow managed to navigate the maze of disused tunnels underneath Cincinnati to this very spot I would find only a blank wall. I had nowhere better to go, not since the landlord changed the locks and left my stuff outside in the rain. Not much worth taking anyhow. I had planned to settle down in this dead end and hope the rats wouldn't eat my nose as I slept. I grabbed the handle. Cold, an almost electric cold. There was no lock, no mechanism or hole I could see. I pulled at it, and it did not budge. Then I pushed, and it swung freely. Behind was a deep spiral stairway, going down farther than my flashlight beam could illumine. No railing, just a central deep hole. I carefully descended, hugging the outer edge, panning under my feet with the light. It felt like ages, like miles. There was light at the bottom, pale and cool. As I walked those last few cycles around the shaft I began to smell a dry sweetness in the air, like honeysuckle overgrowing a tombstone.
I had discovered the University Ostina. Vast, underground, lit by biological phosphorus, from mushrooms and lichens and something that flew or drifted in the high cave canopy above me. I was tired beyond tired, could barely appreciate the sights as I stumbled across courtyards to old dormitories, wandering dark halls until I found an unlocked room. The only sound was my breath and footsteps. The room had a bed, ancient mattress over stone, more comfortable than it had any right to be. I fell asleep immediately, dreaming restlessly in forgotten tongues and did not wake until I began to hunger.
I wandered, hungry, thirsting, looking for a kitchen or larder, wondering how long this place had been empty, if anything edible could remain. I found a well, with water that tasted clean and sharp. I drank, wondering if I would regret it later. And I found a small vial, discarded, dusty, on the floor. I wiped it off and saw a finger inside, floating in a dark clear liquid. It seemed to twitch, to press the ridges of its print against mine through the glass. An illusion of the fluid dyamics, surely. Then I was
"They come," shouts the Chancelloress. "They come with their naughts and crosses and you would leave us entirely without defence."
The man with the insect head across from her buzzes in dissent. "The Blisterthorn Pact-"
"Means nothing with Calinth fallen, and you know it."
A man, naked but for a purple hood and a belt with a gaudy plaid flag hanging modestly frontward, enters silently and sets down plates of ash on the table. The chancelloress casually traces a series of lines in the air. The ash unburns, becomes a loaf of black bread and a flank of salmon. She takes a bite between rants from her council, then says "Enough. My mind is
The memory lingered. More, the spell lingered. My fingers made those gestures toward a brittle paper sack of ash and a meal burst from it, noodles and mussels and steaming hot butter-garlic sauce. I scramnled through drawers for an unrusty fork, found one, and dug in. More water, another ash meal, and I was finally sated.
I explored the university, building by building, room by room, still driven to search after securing comfortable bedding and nigh-endless stores of revertable ash. Many doors were locked, and I had not found any tool better than a steak knife to attack them with. Finally, in a house on a slight hill where a rock through a window could bypass the door, I found what I had been looking for without even knowing: a wine cellar, all empty bottles and vials of ashen salt. As I shifted a packet into a bottle and readied the spell, I saw a jug, full of thick brine and a strange chunk of meat. I did not recognize it as a tongue until I had picked it up and examined it more closely. It pressed to my palm through the glass. I nearly
Him a strapping lad with a night-black bubble where a head should be, quivering with list. The chancelloress nude, pen in hand, cosigning the contract of this young agent's treason. She calls him forward, and he moves that ball of solid nothingness between her legs and performs unfathomable, noneuclidean acts of pleasure on her, to seal the deal. She whispers a spell of youth and health between moans, years and scars fading as he rises to
Another spell learned, and cast. It wasn't nearly as effective, alone. My prick seemed almost unfamiliar, curious, novel in self-pleasure, and the magic did not take years off. It did ease old pains I had forgotten were bothering me. Toothaches and joint pain I had become inured to vanished, leaving a sense of euphoria. I drank the wine, but slowly, savoring each glass, each sip, and I did not restore a second bottle.
Instead I searched the house, finding gold, jewelry, a few books in good enough preserve. I knew I could find my way back again now, that this place would not hide from me. I returned to the great staircase and climbed with legs that did not object to the exercise.
The outside air was strange to me now, empty of calm and awash in sweat and smoke. I let a storefront rob me, taking gold for a fraction of its worth, for cash to buy suitcases, clothes, a night's rent in a hotel. More respectable for a shower and change of clothes in the morning, I got a slightly better exchange from the pawnbrokers for the jewelry. Then to the hospital. To my sister.
She had not gotten any better. A deep coma, since the murder the court called accident. I tried to formulate a new spell, something to restore her. Nothing worked. I could slit her throat and raise her as a revenant. The thought was ugly; I recoiled from it. But that would satisfy nothing but revenge. Revenge was a comforting fantasy. If I could point a finger at Professor James Kolian, reckless and drunken driver, and cause him to drop dead, I surely would. And why stop with him? The system had failed Della. The system was made of people.
Before returning to the cool University grounds, I went on a bit of a spree. Sex workers, all paid and tipped generously. Women and men, which had never been my taste before, each deeply invigorating, thanks to the spell. Then back below with bags loaded with comforts.
I found the eyeball in the library, pickled with the optic nerve trailing behind like hungry orchid roots in the pickling fluid. I stared into it, pressed against the glass
Studies, desperate studies, as smoke lingers in cave air. The Chancelloress works through books, weaving spells of translation and study as she goes. The ceiling above the ceiling shudders. She runs down, toward the hidden laboratories beneath
I ignored the new magic. Instead I ran to the library wall, traced fingers along the dusty cracks to find that secret entrance and activated the mechanism. Down, to those ancient labs.
At the bottom I formed a spell I hadn't known I had ever learned, to light the room. I reeled at the sight. A hundred knives and scalpels, in clockwork mechanical arms, surrounding a skeleton. Our skeleton. Hers, I mean. And a rack full of hundreds of empty vials. Incomplete, the process incomplete. This is nearly all of me that can return. This is nearly all of me that can be replaced, erased. One full vial, a long pointer finger. Something-no, not something. Her. She tries to stop me. I don't let her. I reach for
"We vote surrender," says Professor Gelid, a strange smugness in her half-smile. "You have been beaten."
"Outvoted, perhaps" says the Chancelloress. "But never defeated, not by you." She recalls earlier times, better times, when they were friends, lovers even. She feels nothing but contempt. The Chancelloress points her finger and works forbidden magic that drains strength from her muscles and bones. Professor Gelid's heart liquefies to rot in an instant. As Gelid drops she turns finger against the other rebelling faculty, wondering how many she can
|# ? Sep 28, 2020 02:58|
"'You can't look at me like a piece of meat all day and then lecture me like I'm a child.'" (page 233.)
Be Ye Devourer or Devoured
Come, now, Pilgrim. Take a load off. Your feet must be so tired. Everyone has had to walk their own distance to reach my doors and they’ve walked it at their own pace. However long it took you to arrive, however many times you strayed from the path, be ye not judged. Step over my threshold, cozy up to the bosom of my pews and find a home within the ribs of my rafters.
You got here just in time, Pilgrim. The service just wound down, and after service, we open up the pulpit so that my flock of faithful can share their testimonies, recount their journeys out of the dark and into the light.
No two people find this chapel in the same way. No two people even see “this chapel” as the same thing. Which makes sense, when you think about it. I spread the lacquered arms of my pews, gather all who are willing into the shade of my spires. I bathe all who wish themselves cleansed in my waters and then I cradle your sins in the vault of my catacombs. See me as a church, a cathedral, a river, a shrine, it makes no difference. None are unwelcome.
What’s that? Oh, of course there’s a tithe. History may have moved on from the age of indulgences but even things that run on faith and feeling don’t come for free.
John Calvin almost had it right when he proposed that God had already predetermined which shining souls would make it to Heaven. “God,” if you choose to call it that, has freely and unchangeably ordained whatsoever comes to pass. But this is less a proclamation to the saved than to those who must prop the gates of Heaven open.
Come, come, get in line. Stand beside your brothers and think about your journey, every twist and turn that brought you here. Did you see a side street glinting in the corner of your eye? Were you deep in a forest, following a bounding rabbit that led you off your hiking trail? Did a gilt-edged envelope arrive in your letterbox?
Or are you one of those who found me through more heart-pounding means? Did a feeling of being watched overcome you while you laid flowers in a cemetery? Did you flee blindly through the trees, certain that you felt hot, stalking breath up the back of your neck? Were you running down the road to escape the bullies that always follow you home from school, only to find you lost your bearings and can’t remember which way is home?
Step up to the pulpit. Recount your Crossing. Ponder on how all this came to pass.
Kneel before my avatar, who may appear to you in any number of skins. Let him brush your crown with his white suede gloves. Let the whisper of his vestments drown out the throbbing of your pulse.
You’re here for a reason, Pilgrim. Every last one of you.
The other churches out this way, they don’t understand what I do. Their preachers, they all dig the roots of their sermons in older times. Back before the flood swallowed all, when the world was new. They hearken back to the scent of rich, new soil and promises as yet unsullied by the twists and turns of humanity’s free will.
But they’ve forgotten that older things than God tilled the furrowed fields from which Eden grew.
Kneel and take my sacrament, Pilgrim. I know it looks like water, but you are the one who changes it. You are the one who transmutes. May it taste like wine or milk or honey in your mouth. All who kneel here sip from my chalice and learn the paths their souls walked when the world was fresh. If your communion tastes of sweetness, a rich feast awaits you.
My old, old soil and sturdy foundations would be dry upon your tongue. I regret you can’t eat of my body as Christ would have you do, but I--
The others? What others? Oh, you needn’t trouble yourself with them. My foundations hold firm against the degradation of time, the winds of progress, the howls of storms because of the tithe the others pay. That is their glory. Unless you sip from my cup and taste blood, that glory is not for you.
Mankind has always been fond of parables. Let me put it to you simply. In those other churches, where they share tales of Eden and of Adam’s strength and Eve’s betrayal, they fix the lens of judgment on the woman and the serpent. Be ye deceiver or deceived, they say, Jesus Christ has already died so that you shall be free of sin.
Every one of you is either man, woman, or snake. They forget that some of you are apples.
Be ye devourer or devoured, Pilgrim? There’s only one way to find out. Your feet must be so tired after all that walking. It’s easier on your knees. Come closer. Kneel down. Open wide.
|# ? Sep 28, 2020 03:23|
subs closed. i didnt look at the posts cuz im gonna use judgemode but if someone didnt sub if you sub late u still get a crit.
im hype to read the stories
|# ? Sep 28, 2020 04:35|
k there wasnt much argument over the stories. it was a good week and we enjoyed reading everything. there have to be winners and losers etc so:
only dm is Dead on Arrival by hawklad this was just zumbos/dead space with an action one liner ending.
the loser is Dance or Die by Tyrannosaurus. we were confused by some of the thematic stuff in this. like lady satan is hype because... two gay people will bone? we didnt feel the setup was strong enough to get us past whatevers going on there
hms are awarded to
Bright Child by Weltlich for having such a pitch black ending out of nowhere that we realized we kind of gave af about it
the Arborist's Liederkreis by magic cactus, my fave of the two. just works on a bunch of neat levels (including the snazzy title)
the winner is Recurtigo by rat-born cock. it loving slayed with dank prose and an arc that was both complex & tight
judgemode was turned off only for writing this post. more detailed crits later.
rat-born cock gj & please post the prompt
|# ? Sep 29, 2020 07:59|
|# ? Sep 29, 2020 20:49|
Well gently caress. Because what I want after a 9 hour day of wrangling dickheads out of their own assholes is to have to wrangle you dickheads up your own assholes.
Stories where the solution to the central problem is kindness, friendship, or compassion.
When you people sign up you will get an uplifting animal meme from somewhere around the internet, because I hate you. That will inspire the stories.
NO EROTICA. Don't do anything you know you're not supposed to do.
Sign up by 11:59PM EST this Friday
Submit by 11:59PM EST this Sunday
Maximum word limit: 800
|# ? Sep 29, 2020 21:33|
One cute animal, please.
<----- not this.
|# ? Sep 29, 2020 21:44|
|# ? Sep 29, 2020 21:49|
|# ? Sep 29, 2020 22:08|
One cute animal, please.
|# ? Sep 29, 2020 22:09|
|# ? Sep 29, 2020 22:09|
|# ? Sep 29, 2020 22:12|
Week 424 Critiques!
MockingQuantum - Fish Tales:
A couple things here. The fish thing comes out of nowhere halfway through.
There's no hint of supernatural element until the very end and the villain just comes out of nowhere
You've got all the elements of a good sandwich here, it just needs a little tweaking and a little flourish.
You've got this established relationship between the brothers.
What I would have done different:
1) Establish right off the bat that there's this fish that grants wishes. The tone is completely disparate from where you end up.
2) The villain is just kind of contrived. But you give me the brothers fighting? Hell yes.
It's just a dramatic scene shift into supernatural. I also don't think you need the first scene shift.[
Derp - Good Things in Tunnels -
I actually liked this one a lot. It's cute and uplifting and shows a lot in terms of character development. It's satisfying and actually one of my favorites.
The internal monogue in italics was a little strange considering the third person and I don't think it really gave much.
But it's a real story and I liked it. It works, it's cute and uplifting.
take the moon - white light/pink spiderweb
I had to reread this one a lot. What you've done with the words in the space you were given is incredible. Each sentence is pretty packed with
meaning and metaphor and you've got an amazing way with words.
The problem is that it doesn't go anywhere. The characters don't really change or grow or do anything different.
Sparks and I fought over this one because I like character driven stories. This one everyone twirls but remains in place. But it's a delight to watch it go.
Magic Cactus - #nofilter -
I get what you're going for in this piece. And it's technically proficient. There are no glaring technical errors. But you've got some issues with using the natives and with character here.
It's...well, yergh. Let's go with Yergh.
Gorka - An Uncommon Passenger
The other judges were a big fan but I got more of a tell, don't show vibe from it. Sentences like:
"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 was definitely peculiar."
"fishing for a reaction."
On the other hand, you develop a really good sense of rapport between them. Towards the end, I liked watching Segeria and the Traveller interact. And I wanted more.[
Thranguy - The Last Passenger
I want to start out with what you do really well here - the setting. I want *more*. I want to know what's going on. We're definitely in the middle of poo poo and you don't explain it to us.
I get it. I start piecing together what's going on. I want to know why and you don't outright tell me and I'm curious about it.
The characters? Not nearly as interesting as the backdrop. Not much happens with them.
But the scene? Holy hell.
Antivehicular - Riding with the Ghost
Breathless. I would describe this as breathless. I figured it was an adderall sort of thing but the narration made me feel like everything was jammed together.
I got told a lot of things here and I think you could have dialed it down a peg and shown them to me instead. I got a real quick education on why things worked and how they worked but honestly I didn't get caught up in it.
Crabrock - Somewhere on the 70.
This one spoke to me because this is sort of how the way I see myself right. Relationally. You've got a great background to start, you've got natural dialogue and you've got a reason for them to be there. Right off the bat.
The rant felt a bit off for me. It wasn't natural-- I don't think people fight like that. But that was the only hiccup.
|# ? Sep 30, 2020 03:23|
|# ? Sep 30, 2020 05:02|
|# ? Sep 30, 2020 05:43|
|# ? Sep 30, 2020 05:50|
|# ? Sep 30, 2020 06:21|
I can't sleep for poo poo after a certain clown circus that happened earlier. Have more prompts. By the way, I am giving animal prompts but your stories don't have to be about these cute animals. They could be about anything, including, but not limited to, cute animals.
|# ? Sep 30, 2020 07:39|
thanks for the crit quantum
|# ? Sep 30, 2020 12:07|
Greetings, you wonderful people. This message has been rubber stamped by at least one member of the shadowy cabal that runs things around here.
Guess what? The holidays are coming! Yeah it's a bit early, but I want something to smile about.
It’s a different kind of year, that’s for drat sure, but let’s celebrate and find some joy where we can, OK? OK!?!?!?
This will be the fourth year of TD Secret Santa . In rolling with things as they are, I wanted to facilitate a celebration this year that would reduce the amount of effort/resources needed to participate and still include as many people as possible.
Accordingly, this year, we will be doing a Holiday Card Exchange!
In years past there have been multiple groups, some send presents some send stories etc.
This year, there’s just one pile of goons: Those who are in.
If you want to be in, all I need from you is your physical mailing address. If that’s concerning to you, I do totally get that! Don’t participate if you don’t want to.
The terms this year are that each person who signs up will get the address of TWO people. You will be responsible for sending those TWO people a card, or even a postcard is cool. You can go store-bought, or get creative. You can write the person a letter about how wonderful they are, or just send them a picture of a horse that says Hoofy Holidays (don't do that).
So you will be sending TWO cards, and getting TWO cards. JOY!
Hard rule though: NO PRESENTS Presents are not optional. I want no expectation from anyone to purchase and ship gifts this year.
So, if you want to be a part of this, please don’t post in the thread. Instead, Private Message me or find me on Discord and let me know you want in by providing me your physical address. People in the past have tried to sign up without doing that, and then I pester them for that, and then they don’t respond, and then I don’t include them, and then they yell at me. That’s pretty much the only wrong way to do this.
If you are interested in this, and want to do it, but identify any barriers to participating, let me know. I will work with you.
Signups are now open and will close on November 1st.
Chili fucked around with this message at 19:24 on Sep 30, 2020
|# ? Sep 30, 2020 19:22|
Greetings, you wonderful people. This message has been rubber stamped by at least one member of the shadowy cabal that runs things around here.
Rubber loving stamped. I'm looking forward to this! If you need a link to the Discord, please let me or the thread know.
|# ? Sep 30, 2020 19:26|
Thanks for the crit! For context it's the first finished story I've shown anyone, so I'm grateful for the feedback.
Also in for this week's prompt.
|# ? Oct 1, 2020 16:38|
Thanks for the crit! For context it's the first finished story I've shown anyone, so I'm grateful for the feedback.
|# ? Oct 1, 2020 23:48|
crits (in no particular order)
okay so your prompt was about the moon and your plot revolved around the moon so you hit the plot but sort of in an obviously way. “The crickets will lose their poo poo if the moon doesn’t come up soon.” i mean the whole prompt is jammed in a sentence.
you had good characterization and effectively did it through the chars arguing, however they were real blase about making the moon rise randomly which felt like it would kind of gently caress up the planet somehow but im no scientist.
another thing is if this is a metaphor for performance anxiety thats about the most awkward thing you can metaphor in the world.
in the end we didn’t feel like this one really blew our minds in any way. the tension comes from both their relationship and their sitch but it was easy to tell that once they’d fixed one they’d fix the other
right from the jump this thing is a thrill a second with dank action verbs and frenetic hallucinatory imagery. you have a good sense for pacing and establishing perspective. i dont care that you use semi-colons but i also wouldnt have cared if you comma-spliced.
your imagery had verve and your symbols strength.
so basically a tight grasp of pacing combined with that and an ending open up to so, so much interpretation did it for us. i don’t have much else to say, just really good.
my complaint about this one was that the salem/sabrina dynamic is a lil played out. however, the ending hit cuz you really went for it. it was… surprising to say the least and we enjoyed the surprise. it had a lot of weight and made me personally see the characters in a new light. they almost become mythic figures which is out of nowhere for what seemed like a standard teenage witch setup.
dead on arrival
i think you could’ve had more creative tech in yr opening sentence. a laztorch is not the most interesting abbreviation or whatever in the world for a sci-fi tool. however, you started your story well in concept. action = good
its neat that yr char is gay. however, his past relationship sounds like it could’ve happened not in space. i think a space relationship should involve doing things you can only do in space like nebula watching or whatever.
your concept is of course dead space but it seemed like you were intentionally trying to mimic a linear horror adventure. your character only ever goes forward. a sign tells him where to go, and its a gimmick area (something im guilty of in setting) the garden area to be precise.
i liked your explanation of the zombies.
i like your descriptions also, like the “snick of an irising door.” however its a little coincidental that he runs into 2 zombies in a row both someone he’s dated. has he dated the whole space station?
one of my favourite books growing up had an aside that stuck with me. the mc (a movie critic) divides sci-fi movies into two categories: running around with a rocket launcher killing evil aliens and “aren’t we all hostages to our fate on space ship earth???” this leaned a little too much towards the first, a flaw shared with "overgrowth" (see below).
unfortunately your action movie one-liner ending clinched the dm but it def still had its strengths
reading the story in full evidences that it has neat little bookends. gj
the chanukah line had me interpret the fam as being jewish, sorry bout that (did not affect judging but made the story seem a lil more bizarre)
i remember wondering if garbage day was a reference to the music review column the front page used to run
you flip to time-lapse description/narration at the end which kind of takes away from any immediacy the story might’ve had. a chill enough story but it didn’t, i originally used the word ‘arrest’ here, us. nothing overtly wrong with it though.
this one almost hmed, i wont say which one of us wasnt feeling it as hard. its a neat concept, flipping between perspectives using textual breaks that feel very pillars of eternity inspired. unfortunately your initial pov is a little boring, the standard tomb/catacomb thief who will get what’s coming to him.
the biggest strength was the imagery of your ending. this one tried something a little different and didnt quite make the hm cut but it isnt without honour or anything.
“The system had failed Della. The system was made of people.” a strong accusatory set of sentences. maybe more of this and less prostitute loving
dance or die
okay, time to talk about this one.
so in this story the mc is the personification of plague or whatever. there are a lot of implications to her being turned on that two gay people are about to commit adultery with each other. i wont really go into it but suffice it to say she’s into sin and her glee implies that being gay adds a lil more sin to the original sin.
im sure this is in no way what you meant to do. but we got confused by it. it just seemed strange. if these two figures had been cis would you have written the scene the same way, gone for the same effect? it seemed legit hard for us to tell.
the story meanwhile is a competent but not overly innovative look at a club rave from a gaiman-esque perspective. it just wasnt enough to distract us from the awkward thematic work. it feels like manifestations of satan have been commenting on rave debauchery for a while now.
in no way do i consider myself the thought police but yea, just a bit too weird. enough to lose in a pretty strong week.
be ye devourer or devoured
another strong mid. again, a bit of clash in our judging perspectives.
judeo-christian imagery is cool but we felt this one got a bit too theological. i hated high school religion class and i had mild flashbacks. i quote
John Calvin almost had it right when he proposed that God had already predetermined which shining souls would make it to Heaven. “God,” if you choose to call it that, has freely and unchangeably ordained whatsoever comes to pass. But this is less a proclamation to the saved than to those who must prop the gates of Heaven open.
stuff like this seems overly expository and detracts from some kind of cool stuff going on. i like the idea that this dude has his weird metaphysical church set up to take anyone who happened to be in a panic or searching for something.
the ending is a lil suggestive which im sure you were going for. i dont think we were the right judges for that tho.
short and sweet
this is the one i felt like i had the most broke legs i was attempting to stand on while judging. ive never lived in like, rural us or anywhere in the us for that matter. so i am no expert on its homophobia. however…
literally both diners featured in the… diner have ridiculously nasty comments to make about the (well done) emotional drama taking place. like is this an accurate depiction of small-town americana, or is it a little artificial? not to mention that homophobe #1 is an extremely stereotypical stereotype. i could be wrong. this story could come from lived experience in which case my egregious bad.
like i said the emotional stuff was well done but you didn’t max out your word count which made it a lil more obvious that structurally it was a bit off. the real climax, the moment of truth where the mc waits to get their heart broke, comes a bit early and we sort of deal with the knife being twisted in for a little too long. by the end the reader is a little over it, especially since the hallucinatory aspects become a bit more of a gag reel.
mostly the same issues as “dead on arrival” (see above) but didn’t dm thanks to some decent description. however in the end it was very generic action movie-y and you need a little more than that i think.
my problem with stories like these is basically the same prob i have with your generic mcu movie or whatever. it implies that the stat quo is the be all and end all, like if we just restore it everything’s okay. i find this pretty troubling. like shouldnt we be trying to change the world, not just save it?
on another note, you go out of your way to describe your protag as a useless schlub who just got lucky. the word “expendable” is used. why would we send an expendable person on this mission? unless we have an infinite amount of dudes to send, in which case the protag’s struggle is ultimately meaningless
the arborist's liederkreis
first of all, repetition. repetition is SO HARD to do well and i like never attempt it. you did it well and the story is the better for it.
“the air has the chill of the first frost of winter” is the kind of precise detail that works so well throughout the story. not too flashy, tells u whats up and then shushes itself before overreaching.
in my notes for sebs consideration i wrote that this is a better sci-fi punishment than like say gibson has shown he could come up with on the spot. like in mona lisa overdrive i think they have the retrograde amnesia jail sentence. that was boring. this is better, and gibson exposited that, and with this i lived it. it was dank
criticism: your protag is unlikeable. this sort of worked against the story. it turns out your dude is a condemned: criminal origins level total psycho-sociopath. your plot oozed with style but i couldnt help wondering how id be affected if it was a more sympathetic dude being driven to suicide by violent hallucinations.
id already read the winner by this point, immediately put it up against that and it came up short but my initial first pass reaction note is “lol thats a hm”
also your title maxes out what a title can do. with the full weight of the story behind it i scrolled up to check it out again and it had impact and made me think. usually i just pick my motif and condense it to a few words. you were slightly more ambitious lol. a well deserved mention for a truly honourable story
tldr: strong week, each story had a strength or two
take the moon fucked around with this message at 03:07 on Oct 3, 2020
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|# ? Oct 2, 2020 23:20|
BRAWL ENTRY - W E A S E L F I G H T
while i had a bunch of quibbles, this is a good and funny story that takes the animal fighting trope and gives it a simple but effective twist. Your opponent, had they bothered to show, would have had to write a fairly good story to beat this, but they didn't, and they didn't. I therefore declare YOU the winner of the inaugural WEASELBRAWL.
|# ? Oct 3, 2020 01:12|
hi goons. i've just posted a state of the nation open thread for CC. please come and share your thoughts!
|# ? Oct 3, 2020 01:38|
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|# ? Oct 3, 2020 22:18|