here we go here we go here we go here we go
Bat Mission - 1500 Words
A special mission, they said.
For someone of special talents, they said.
An explosion, the first of many this morning, sent both a cloud of birds from the jungle and a cloud of rifle-armed bats from the entry vents well above head level. In front of Atra loomed the biggest complex she had seen, and above the massive fortification rose the skeletal finger of a transmission tower.
Atra sprung into action with a surge of raw power as the guards were distracted, sprinting towards the base of the wall and then leaping up, climbing the sheer concrete surface effortlessly. This mission's paycheck was to be the best yet, and there was a hell of a reason for it: she was heading right to the last place any self-respecting gorilla commando wanted to be. The center of the Bat Empire, and its Tracking Base.
A ping rattled through Atra’s head, a few brain cells shaking loose. That ping was what let the bats organize their military, spreading across South America and disrupting trade. Normally, the ping was inaudible, but bats could hear how it echoed. With that ping, they could know where everything was. Instantly.
As a result, they’d expanded their influence into the Caribbean and even more northwards. Coastal air raids were nearly constant on the shores of the Tiger Empire, and although the state corporations that effectively ran the country cared little for loss of lives, they did care for loss of profit.
Plenty of eyes were turned to what was happening in South America, and plenty of ways had been devised of neutralizing its effect, but the best way to stop the ping was to cut it off at its source. More than a few tiger tycoons put together the big bucks to fund this venture, so she had the best gear on offer.
First came the suit, a fluffy affair that funneled sound around her. It seemed rather porous, but the way it rested on Atra’s fur annoyed her. The presence of both loose gauziness and tightness was an unpleasant feeling, but as long as it kept the bats from finding her, she didn’t care.
Climbing up the sheer concrete, she crested the lip of the entry and went further in, the remaining guards swarming about in confusion. Inside didn’t seem to be much better, as random clicks and chatters rose amidst the hallways, multiple bats rushing past her.
Atra pressed herself tightly against the wall, avoiding contact with the bats rushing to and fro. The suit worked its wonders, as none of them seemed to even notice she was there. She inched along the wall, continuing to avoid contact with anyone or anything, before slipping into a dimly-lit maintenance corridor.
Within, a bat worked off to the side, welding frames together. Atra took a moment, a moment too long, as the bat raised its eyes towards her, making out the vague black vastness of her shape. Its eyes widened for a moment as it lunged towards the other side of the room, towards a panel. Atra dove for the bat, before whipping her mighty fist to crash against the bat’s torso, propelling it against the opposite wall with a sickening crunch. That bat had covered twice the distance she had in the same time, that meant she needed to get them quick or she was never going to make it out of here.
The other goody that the tiger trillions bought for her was the smallest bomb she had ever laid eyes on. The whole thing was covered in warning labels and tool marks, but the eggheads who made it assured her it would work "very well".
Sticking to poorly lit maintenance areas, Atra pushed further in towards the center of the base. As she did, she was struck by two things: she was going down, and there weren’t an awful lot of people. Only a few personnel seemed to be staffed to the inside, and almost all of them seemed to be unarmed. The vast majority of the security seemed to have vacated their posts in order to respond to the explosion outside.
It was funny in a way, to pass some of the technicians and troopers by, listening to their clicks and chatter as they gossiped. What they were saying was beyond her, but it amused her to no end that they were missing the gorilla in the room.
Finally, she got to what seemed to be a central control station of some kind, slipping past as a door slid open for a technician to get inside. It had view ports into some kind of engineering area, possibly a reactor for the emitter, and it was there and then that Atra knew she hit the jackpot. Slinking along the room, she slipped past a few techs before activating the bomb and stowing it in a trash bin near one of the consoles.
All in all, this was so far the easiest mission she had accomplished to date, really. She was surprised something hadn’t gone more wrong, until one of the bats saw her, its nearly-blind eyes focusing on her. It screeched and slammed its hand on a panel nearby, as a high pitched klaxon began to blare. Time to leave. Lifting up a table and throwing it at the encroaching bats, she retreated, sprinting to the corridor.
Clicking and screeching followed behind her, and came up from ahead. Atra simply ran forwards as fast as she could, stampeding down the hallway towards the troopers running towards her. She didn’t stop moving, even as they began to raise their rifles, and slammed into them, her mighty fists tearing them asunder before they could fire a shot.
The hallways were sparsely crowded, and what little engagements were left were with a disorganized and chaotic force relying on one of their worst senses. Atra rumbled through the hallway, an ill-defined blob of silent, black death that loomed over the troops beneath her. Breaking out of the entryway where she had come, she sprinted for the treeline once more, shots rattling out around her, one catching her in a graze across her shoulder and a few more rippling through the fabric of the suit.
Leaping up into the branches of the jungle, she grasped a vine and began swinging, as a mass of screeching bats careened after her, gunfire echoing and bullets whizzing their way through the canopy. The bats could fly, certainly, but keeping up in the thick of the jungle was something only she could do. With grace and ease, she swung through the air, diving between cracks and crannies as bats crashed around her into branches and trunks alike, tangled and screaming.
As the last of the pursuers broke off, Atra enjoyed herself for a moment, swinging leisurely through the jungle up towards the mountain to the south. It was where she approached the base from initially, since the bulk of the mountain blocked the sonar, and it provided a useful extraction point.
Settling on a branch near extraction, Atra relaxed, looking off into the distance at the mighty concrete structure below. With a thunderous bang, the bomb went off, a crack splitting the entire structure in two, eliciting a cheer from the exhausted commando.
Then, something unexpected happened. From afar, she saw a flash emit from the cracks in the structure, before a cataclysmic heave happened to the earth beneath her feet. Turning away and running as quickly as she could, the earth buckled and cracked as an obliterating light and sound destroyed all thought but the need to run.
The only important thing was to get to the other side of the mountain. She could hear the ground beneath her splinter and quake, the rippling of the blast’s shockwave rolling through ground and air alike. Diving into a cave large enough to fit her, Atra shielded her head with her arms and waited for the end.
A roar and a shaking that threatened to tear the world apart were her companions for the next hour. There were many times she was afraid the cave would collapse, but to go outside would risk far worse. After an agonizingly long moment, it ended. Once it had subsided, she made her way to the entrance, picking away fallen rubble.
Emerging to the outside world, she beheld an apocalyptic spectacle. Her side of the mountain was a devastated wasteland, the ground torn to shreds by some unearthly act. New rifts in the earth were formed, sea water rushing in. The mountaintop above her seemed to be sheared cleanly off by the force of the blast, and as she peeked around the corner, she understood why.
A massive crater now filled the valley and well beyond, stretching well past what she even thought was possible. It looked like, quite literally, the entire Bat Empire was blasted back into the Stone Age. She stood at the rim of the Crater Zone, and spat into it.
“Never liked bats anyways.”
|# ? Mar 1, 2021 02:38|
|# ? Jun 29, 2022 01:38|
United States of Lions
Flash Rule: Must involve the Gorilla Commune
Confessions of a Lion President: I Was a Teenage Content Creator
Look, I never wanted to become the youngest elected president in the history of the United States of Lion. I didn’t do all the stuff that people are supposed to do like play sports or start a tech company or make long, folksy speeches about tax policy. I never wrote for my school newspaper, the Mane Page. My most ambitious artistic endeavor was a fourth-grade production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. I played the roof.
No, the run for office was to make my parents chill for, like, five minutes about college. It was to impress some admissions counselors and maybe rack up some of that sweet scholarship cash with a doomed foray into national politics. It’s not my fault my meme-heavy platform resonated with the masses or that people found the focus group-synthesized, neoclassical bullshit of my rivals hella lame. If people had done their jobs, I’d be partying with my friends at the University of Catifornia instead of spending my weekends shaking paws with old people.
I lapped at the saucer of milk in front of me as aides scurried about the situation room. On the television in front of us were scenes of the border rendered in shades of black and green. A SWAT team scurried across the screen, smacking civilians away from a smoking ruin with their meaty lion paws. It was carnage.
I finished drinking and pushed the saucer off the table. It fell to the ground with a crash.
“Alright, dweebs, a few minutes ago I was doing numbers on Weird Twitter with some Kitty Perry parody songs,” I said. “I want to know what the hell is so important to drag me away from the only thing that makes this job bearable.”
There was a loud sigh from Vice President Tomcat Glenn. We locked eyes. Back during the primaries, naming an old astronaut as my vice president had seemed like a funny bit. I could make a national hero pick up my lunch and clean up my messes. After the election, though, the dude proved to be a real buzzkill. Every time we talked, he went on about things like “funding for the arts and sciences.” Our partnership had soured after I rerouted money meant for lunar rovers into funny stock investments.
“Mr. President,” said the vice president in a dark tone. “Hours ago, the Gorilla Commune raided a military outpost near our border in retaliation for several of your earlier… remarks.”
He let the sentence hang in the air, pretending as though my tweets about “assBlasting” the gorillas with “the boys” hadn’t been hilarious. I’d even gotten input on them from the Department of Defense and a few of my really chill donors beforehand. They all insisted it was funny as hell.
He continued. “If our intelligence reports are to be believed, the gorillas plan to attack our catnip reserves and zebra pens next to prevent us from taking aggressive action. These are exactly the kind of gorilla warfare tactics we were afraid of.”
“Well, that’s a huge bummer.” I said. “I love catnip. Everyone loves catnip.”
The vice president pursed his lips. “Indeed,” he said dryly. “The effects on our supply chains could be catastrophic, especially after you mandated daily consumption through your ‘Blaze It: Catnip All Day, Every Day’ executive order.”
“Well, gently caress. We’re definitely gonna need to revisit that,” I scribbled on a notepad to make people think I was taking notes. “What’s the military saying?”
Secretary of Defense Jeanne Purrpatrick stood up across the table. Rows of ribbons glinted on her pantsuit. “Say, sir? The military doesn’t say anything except ‘Boom! Boom! Boom!’ and that’s exactly what we should be doing here.”
Glenn scowled as she spoke but my ears perked up. I paused my scribbling to write the word “BOOM” in large block letters on my notepad. “Oh, that’s fuckin’ nice, Jeanne. Succinct. Catchy. Absurdist. People online will eat up content like that.”
The secretary sat down and, without looking, raised a paw into the air for a high five. The attorney general reached out and gave it a slap.
I nodded with respect. In the past few weeks, the secretary had started speaking my language, moving away from boring paperwork and toward tight 240-character slogans. It was no wonder so many of my cool military contractor friends had wanted her nominated.
Glenn opened his mouth and looked at us with a mix of disgust and horror. “Mr. President, you can’t seriously—. This would be an enormous escalation. We can still avoid unnecessary bloodshed with a tactful, diplomatic—.
“Oh, there you go again you go again, yucking our president’s yum,” said the secretary of defense as if rattling through a catalog of memorized phrases. “Our president wants to massively expand our military commitments and it’s our duty as hashtag-proud and hashtag-patriotic citizens to support him in whatever glorious—.”
“We can’t just start declaring wars on our neighbors because a literal cub—!”
“Lawfully elected cub.”
“Because a lawfully elected cub made an insipid tweet at three in the morning. It’s insipid. Moronic.” Shouted the vice president.
“Woah, slow your roll there, chief,” said Purrpatrick in a prim, practiced voice. “It sounds a lot like you’re questioning my leadership and the leadership of our commander-in-chief.”
“I’ve sniffed enough assholes to know one when I see it.” Snarled the vice president.
I let them throw hands while I checked Twitter, flitting between novelty alt accounts to boost the signal of my main. For whatever reason, likes and retweets on my parody tweets had petered off since I last checked. I frowned and set the phone down, only to pick it up a few seconds later. Still nothing. Just a boring garbage about someone called AUMF.
“What if we compromised and did drone strikes against only half of the Gorilla Commune?” offered the attorney general. Neither the vice president nor the secretary of defense dignified the comment with a response. The attorney general slinked down in his chair.
“Look,” I said. “I gotta be honest, I’m starting to lose interest in this international crisis. Is there any way we could just, like, nuke the gorillas and be done with it? I’d really like to focus the nation’s attention on something less boring. Maybe invading countries for their scratching posts. IDK.”
An expression of hunger flashed across the secretary of defense’s face as the vice president sputtered. He looked wildly around the room, from the dark scenes being played on the television to the faces of the other cabinet members. Finally, he stared down at my phone.
“Mr. President, attacking the Gorilla Commune is the worst action we could take as a nation because…” Vice President Glenn closed his eyes and grimaced. “It would distract the nation from all your very funny and original content.”
A stillness fell over the room. I glanced down at my phone again and then at the vice president. “Go on.”
“If we invade another country, the military campaign is going to be the only thing people talk about. You’ll have to, uh, log off and monitor the conflict instead of…” There was a long pause. “Spilling the tea.”
Purrpatrick leapt to her feet. “Mr. President, that’s not true! We could get all kinds of content out of war. We could get you doing a Spooky Scary Skeletons dance with the troops! We could get you making a joke about feral hogs! We can salvage this!”
I picked up my phone again and refreshed my feed. There were only three new notifications on my account. Three. A shudder went through my body.
“Secretary Purrpatrick, both those jokes are over six months old. They're tired. Ancient.” I said in a cold voice. “If military action would mean cutting down on my supply of content, then it’s clear that the cost of military action is too high.”
I turned to the vice president. “Glenn, I want you on the morning shows tomorrow pitching peace with the gorillas. You have my permission to say whatever is necessary to get the people of the United States talking about my feed again.”
Glenn looked at me with wordless astonishment. I gave him a nod of respect and turned from the room.
“Now, no one bother me unless the gorillas subtweet me or the University of Catifornia calls to offer me enrollment.”
|# ? Mar 1, 2021 02:57|
THUNDER! —THUNDER! —THUNDERDOME, HOOOOOOO!
I'm jumping into this cage match.
|# ? Mar 1, 2021 03:00|
Word count: 1259
“Tiiaan! Calf, stop looking at the loot and come here,” Grandmother whistled.
Guiltily, I flicked my tail and propelled myself up the surface. During the long journey south I'd taken to swimming alongside the loot barge pulled by Mother and Uncle, one eye fixed on its contents to the exclusion of all else.
"Sorry Grandmother," I said. I knew she wouldn't be interested, but I had a big mouth in more ways than one. "I was looking at the cases again, and from what Skagit told me-"
Grandmother huffed, sending a spout of water flying. "You need to spend less time with that sasquatch."
"I told you, he's a gorilla, Grandmother."
"He's an ape that lives in the forest, therefore he's a sasquatch. Besides, when has that worthless land-dweller knowledge come in handy?"
I began to protest but she turned vertically, keeping her large head topside with no visible effort. She was black as obsidian against the too-bright sky. Arguing further would be pointless.
"It won't help you out here in the middle of the ocean, that's for sure. Now, what do you see?"
I spyhopped alongside her, oval fins waving to balance myself. "I see light waves, a warm southeasterly wind. It smells … sweet?' I rotated awkwardly. "Oh! That white cloud sitting on the horizon. Is that it?"
Grandmother clicked an affirmative as she slid back beneath the waves. A few lengths away, my older brother Kun breached with joy. "I knew it!" he squealed. Mother whistled happily while Uncle just rumbled, but both increased the speed of their tail strokes. Our journey was near its end.
"Until we arrive, study the sea as much as you study that human junk," Grandmother instructed. "You'll have to lead the pod to the market someday, you know."
That someday was likely fifty years away. "I know," I said, rolling my eyes but doing as I was told.
Later that day we reached the remote archipelago of smoking islands. Creatures from around the world gathered to trade in this neutral location, especially those who had goods of dubious origins. While some loot was salvaged from old human wrecks, the raider clans also got newer, more valuable items by capsizing boats that crossed our territory. Their crews may be fearsome tiger warriors on land but we drowned them easily in the cold water.
I'd never seen anything like the market, which was a maze of docks built over the warm water. Mother and Uncle positioned the barge in our slot and a bear lowered a gangplank. Once it was in place, they swam away to refuel on fish and scout out the market. Brother Kun circled the barge, dorsal fin cutting the water, on guard for thieves. We were in a pirate port after all.
Grandmother set herself up by the gangplank, head poking up to see the land-dwellers walking past. Her white eye patches glowed in the sun, attracting attention. Before long we had our first prospective customer: an ape with fur the same orange as sea urchin flesh and a surfboard under his arm. He boarded the barge and began to pick through the piles of goods.
"Woah, what's this?" He held up a long stick with a spray of metal prongs on one end.
"Ah, good eye my friend," Grandmother exclaimed. "That is one of our prize backscratchers, you can't find one better! Quality materials, and you can scratch your own back or that of a friend up to a meter away. You orangutans like grooming each other, yes?"
"Yeah …" The orangutan looked a little unconvinced but pulled out a handful of coins. "I'll give you five for it."
"It's yours for seven," Grandmother said.
"OK, six." Grandmother bobbed and the orangutan put the coins into our lockbox. Brother watched him keenly to make sure he didn't cheat us.
"See how it's done, Tiiaan?" Grandmother said when the ape left.
"I do, but that was a rake, not a backscratcher."
Grandmother waved her fin. "Rake, backscratcher, it makes no difference with these human things. The land-dwellers can use it how they like, so long as they pay according to that value."
I saw the logic in that; the important thing was to sell enough to buy the reinforced armor and spiked rams the pod needed to take on larger, more fortified ships. I watched as Grandmother sold a tire to a leopard as a chair and a pair of forks to a rat as weapons that attached to his forearms. She spoke so convincingly that I began to doubt myself. Maybe my sasquatch friend had lied, played a trick on a young whale?
Kun was expounding on the deliciousness of the local sea turtles when I overheard Grandmother say, "-perfect toys for your little ones!" I didn't recall seeing any toys on the barge, so I poked my head topside. My eyes widened when I saw a pair of lions, golden as a sunset, holding small spheres with a pin stuck through the cap. By the way the female lion was gingerly handling hers, I suspected she knew what they were.
"Toys, eh?" the male one said, taking a closer look and fiddling with the pin.
"We do have many cubs that would love them, but we can only give you ten coins for the entire case," said the female, feigning regret.
Grandmother's eye gleamed at the thought of making a quick sale until I butted in, squealing, "We both know those grenades are worth a lot more than that."
Grandmother splashed me. "Don't mind my grandcalf, she thinks she knows everything about human artifacts."
The lions laughed along until I said, "If it's just a toy, you should pull out the pin."
Kun, who swam past to see what the fuss was about, backed me up. "Oh yes, I've been curious to see what they do."
Grandmother noticed the glares the lions were giving us. "Go on, do it. That one's on us."
The lions looked at each other. The female shook her head but the male said, "How bad could it be?"
He drew the pin.
I let out an ear-splitting whistle and dove under the barge. As I did, I heard the female growl at the male before she snatched the grenade and lobbed it into the sea.
Grandmother had followed me and was about to give me a scolding for the ages when the explosion struck, knocking out our breath. Disoriented, I spluttered as I inhaled water before Grandmother pushed me to the surface as if I was a baby calf.
When we recovered, we saw that the lions had tried to escape, clutching the case of grenades. However, they were stymied by Brother Kun, who'd knocked away the gangplank when he saw that they'd be trouble. He positioned himself between the lions and the dock, baring his powerful teeth in a wide smile.
The lions roared, but, faced with three annoyed and slightly deaf killer whales, put down the case. "Let's continue negotiating," said the female.
Grandmother's geniality returned quickly. "Now, a human weapon! That would help in your war against the tigers, no?" She turned to me. "Tiiaan, you're the expert. How much are they worth?"
"Well, Grandmother, you taught me to price things according to their value to the customer. So I think we'll start at eight hundred for the case."
The male snarled until I added, "If you don't like it, you can take your chances swimming."
The barge Mother and Uncle towed home was heavier than ever before.
|# ? Mar 1, 2021 03:01|
Country: Kanga Rat Murder Society.
Vacancy - Assistant Production Operative
“We want everyone to feel like a part of the team,” says Brenda, “If there’s any problems, don’t hesitate to ask Bash: He’ll be your supervisor.”
“Okay,” I say, nodding.
Their rusted crap shack thuds and squeals in the desert breeze. A generator hums outside, and a thick tangle of power cables strains through the window, joining all the appliances in the break room together. I’m sitting at the table, where newspapers have been pushed aside to make room for Brenda’s folders.
We work through her exhaustive pile of documents: safety this; sign that. She keeps apologising for how long it’s taking. I wish we’d spent more time on signals and sirens. What’s the klaxon for, again?
She leads me through a rusted door; it groans. There’s a worn out patch of dirt between these crap shacks. She introduces me to Bash, who is built like a tank, and has scars lining his face; he's sharpening his buck teeth with an angle grinder.
He looks me up and down. I know it, and he knows it: I’m going to suck today.
He throws his grinder. The iron wall chimes.
“First job,” he says: “There’s a pit in the yard: I need you to remove all the dry bones.”
‘Bones?’ I think.
“When you’ve got that done, you need to go into the gore-store out back. Fill the pit with fresh bones from there.”
Bash heaves the rusted gate; It whines. On the other side is the pile of bones.
A single kanga rat can’t lift literal tonnes of bones —Well, Bash might be able to. A chalky dust rises when I lift the bones. My body can’t lift all of these bones: My mind can’t lift all of these bones. I can’t think of the hours I’ll spend hauling these bones. These yellow and cream —awkward and rattling— bones. How many dingoalas and ox horses are in these bones? The bone pile shifts in little bone avalanches whenever I disturb the bones. I can’t think of how tired I’ll be by the end of the pile of bones. Each time I think about the bones, work stops.
“Keep ‘em coming!” Bash shouts.
In these hours, I Just lift the next armful of bones, and I think of home.
I take another armful to the drop off. Bash and some other Kanga Rat are by a huge grinder. The engine’s clearly knackered, and Bash is turning the machine with a handle. This other Kanga Rat, Wallop, feeds it bones.
“You the new assistant?” she says.
“How do you like it here so far?”
'There’s a lot of loving bones.'
“It’s alright so far,” I say.
She smirks, then leans in to ask.
“So, do you reckon you’ll be back tomorrow?”
That is quite the question.
Is there a new career out there for me? I’d ditch this pile, get free from the future whose bones are stacked more tall than I am strong. My strength right now, at least: I could get hench.
For all I know, this pile of bones is small. Perhaps, if I’m to eat, I should stay here until I’m sure another job is better. That’s why I say "I will be there tomorrow."
Bones: These ones are gore coated. I carry them to the pit. The skin of my tail has burned; it stings as it drags on the dirt.
Buzzard cats are tearing up the scraps of meat on this new pile of bones. A tortoiseshell patterned bloke with a scratched up beak lands in my path. He sits up proudly on his haunches.
“I’ve not seen you here before,” he says. “What’s your name?”
“Rupert,” I say. “And yours?”
“Rupert?” he says, “Don’t knock yourself out, Rupert: Go at your own pace, bruv.”
“Thanks,” I say.
“And the Name’s Rolo,” he says, “if you could get the hind legs out first, that’d be great (my crew loves the arse meat).”
He pats me on the shoulder, then flies back to the pile.
“Arse meat, Rupert!” He hollers.
“Yeah,” I say, “arse meat.”
Heading back through the compound to the meat storage, Kanga Rats have begun amassing. They’re all passing that angle grinder between them, getting their teeth sharp. I hop into the container, where Bash is carving carcasses, leaving behind the gore coated bones.
“Show me your teeth,” he says.
“They look blunt. Get them nice and sharp.”
'With the angle grinder?'
“Sorry, Bash” I say, “I’m not supposed to use machinery unless I’ve been properly trained.”
“I’ll show you how.”
I can hear the Buzzard cats on the other side of the wall, still ravaging that arse meat.
“The trick is to keep smiling,” says Bash. “That way, you don’t cut your mouth open on the wheel, like Curtis over there.”
“Right,” I say, grabbing the angle grinder. Crowds have gathered around. 'Are they watching me?'
I hold it away from me, then flip the switch. The grinder jumps under its torque. It whirrs, and I can feel the weighty wheel holding itself steady under its gyro forces.
“Don’t be afraid, Rupert,” says Bash, setting off the whole crowd.
“Go on, Rupert.”
“Bite it, lad!”
And all manner of jeers can be heard over the whining disc.
I bite. The buzz is all consuming, shaking my vision into a smear, tingling from my temples to my jaw. I can feel the shards of tooth striking my tongue, and my incisors slowly erode away. I stop.
The tingling remains. My vision is filled with flashing and stars.
The voices in the crowd shout, “There you go!”
“Not bad,” says Bash. I lick my teeth, and can taste success, which is my bleeding tongue.
The klaxons blare.
AWOOOOGA, AWOOOOGA: Kanga rat crowds spring into action. 'Where should I be? What are they doing?' They’re bouncing out of the gate in packs.
“You ever hunted before, Rupert?” Says Bash.
“Follow me, then.”
Ten of us tear past the gate, into the unending featureless dust of the outback flats, springing at pace. Rolo flies alongside.
“Where to?” says Bash.
“Go West,” says Rolo. “Dingoalas out there —they’re stranded from the bushfires.”
Holding speed, we turn in a wide arc over the dust.
“Good luck on your first hunt, Rupert!” says Rolo, before peeling away from the formation.
Half an hour of leaping at pace is murder on the legs. We’re tearing up the dust on the endless flats, following a dust plume that steadily draws nearer: it's the dingoalas' trail.
Wallop is wearing a tin hat. It’s hypnotising, watching those straps flap as she bounces.
“Right, Rupert,” she says. “Forget everything you learned in training, and just loving nail ‘em.”
The dingoalas are spread out several yards from one another. They’ve turned away from us, running, but still moving as one. We can see their dog haunches and roundish bear ears as they begin to pick up their pace. Dingoalas can’t outpace kanga rats; we’re soon breathing their dust.
Bash leaps. His target turns suddenly, weaving out of his bite. Each of us charge and snap at lone Dingoalas. One thuds to the ground, in our colleague's maw, and is gone behind us. These things are slippery, weaving out of our strikes. Somehow, in the chaos, they still move as one, weaving in and out of each other in some kind of dance.
“We’ll outrun you, bastards!” Says Bash. “You’ll get tired before we do!”
“Ohoho!” says the dingoala ahead of him. He stops; as does Bash; as do I.
“Have you not seen your tails?” says the dingoala.
My tail stings again, from within the tangle that now binds our hunting party together.
“How do you hope to catch us like that? Mr. Kanga ratking,” says the dingoala.
They leave our tangled mess in their dust.
“Right,” says Bash. “Remember your entanglement training.”
We hop when he says hop, and again pick up speed, but the dingoalas are still pulling away. I am out of sync, dragged in the dust, my arse beaten repeatedly as we bounce over the dirt.
Then Bash shouts, “FORM THE WHEEL!”
Their coordinated motions cause us all to twirl about our conjoined tails, spinning like a disc.
“LEFT SIDE: BOUNCE!” Bash yells, and the seasoned kanga rats jump in time to influence our gyro forces. The wheel begins to stand, and we roll as one at pace toward the dingoalas.
Sky, ground, sky, ground: It’s all I can see, until a dingoala hurtles toward my face.
I bite, crunching at its bones. Its extra weight under this inertia stretches out my neck.
“Let go at the top!” Wallop shouts.
Sky, ground, sky, ground, sky —I release; the dingoala flies.
Thwacks, and crunches can be heard all around, as we roll our way through the crowd of dingoalas, flinging any who get caught in our teeth.
“Let’s get untangled, and get the transport over,” says Bash.
And the wheel goes round again.
|# ? Mar 1, 2021 03:32|
I'm jumping into this cage match.
A fourth hero seeks excalibur.
|# ? Mar 1, 2021 05:00|
The first night out on the ice my hair went from dark brown to white while I watched my reflection in the smooth glaze covering a shallow pond. It was then that I first started to believe that I might survive the weekend.
By the second night I no longer felt the cold at all. Slightly panicked, I checked my fingers for signs of frostbite. They were pale, unburnt, fully flexible and sensitive to touch. Over the next day I shed my clothing, one piece at a time, until I could feel the wind-blown snow on every inch of my body.
On the third night, as I dreamed, the snow and ice began to bend themselves to my whim and dreaming fancy. I woke in a palace of ice, peopled with frozen simulacra to tend to my every need.
Arbet and Blink arrived the next day.
Arbet struck the frozen ground with his staff and the door sounded three loud knocks. I could see it in my mind as he did it, through new-awakened wizard-sense, just as I knew the outer names of those two in my presence. I waved my hand and weaved the snow and moisture in the air around me into a pale blue gown, and floated down to the lobby to meet them.
"I see you have passed through the initiation," said Blink.
"A pity," said Arbet. Blink glared at him. "The carrion wolves starve these days. So few try."
"Don't take offense," said Blink. "Arbet hates everyone, not least himself."
"At least she should take a name. The void and swarm in her head is enraging."
"A name?" I said.
"Yes," said Blink. "Not a true name,mind. But choose carefully. It will be with you for a long time."
When my wizard-mark first appeared, I was with a lover. She pulled back, scampered away as if it were a venomous spider, as if touching it would strike her dead. I gathered my clothes and left, walking home in heavy rain.
I can still remember the smell of her hair, the curve of her cheek, the sound of her laugh, even though I can no longer summon her face in my mind. I never saw her again. She did not answer any of my letters.
Magical talent is not hereditary. But enough fools believe it is that my father was shamed by the implications of my mark. Maybe he was one of those fools himself. Maybe he already had doubts. Whatever was inside his mind, I was not welcome in that home.
I took the name Rhyme, or it took me, rising unbidden to that part of my mind and locking into place. My outer name, shouted constantly to any wizard nearby unless I made a serious effort to hide it. My given name was dead, maybe forever, and my true name a mystery even to myself then.
"And what next?" I asked my visitors.
"Whatever you will," said Blink.
"Serve an apprenticeship," said Arbet. "If you dare."
I dared. And of the two I found him more honest. I went to his ice palace, shaped my cloak to humble wraps and assisted him in return for what education he could offer. And he had much to teach, how to gather cold within myself, how to safely unleash it, how to make ice supple as silk, or harder and sharper than steel. How to feel every warm thing for miles on these snows. How to navigate by the sensation of the Mote. Five years passed before he released me, named me full wizard.
And the better part of another year I stayed on. We had grown strangely fond of each other, and it had been a long time between lovers for both of us. It did not last. He needed to be punished, whipped with barbed ropes across his back, and my enthusiasm for that faded after only a few months. In the end the only way I could hurt him was by leaving, and he was grateful for that at least.
I was a failure as a wizard in the warm and sunny south. Effort after effort to awaken my talents failed, to the point where healers were brought in to check, four times in as many months, if my mark wasn't some false tattoo or coincidental rash or mole. Teachers I had thought I respected cast me away.
There was no mention of snow magic in those libraries. I only came to suspect it might be a thing by implications, by systems that seem to call for nine schools but present only eight, by the holes in the theory. I sought out forbidden texts, and was distracted by another possible extra school, of dark, diabolical magic. The secret school within the school welcomed me in, seduced me with every kind of attention and eventually invited me to a ritual, an attempt to awaken my mark with the power of the great demon Cravek. Incense was burned, candles were lit, chants were sung over my naked body. The form of the demon appeared, faint and translucent. It turned on me. My wizard mark burned, and it turned away, with what looked like rage and fear on its red and beastly face. It faded.
The next day I was given notice that the school would no longer pay my board. I packed what I had and left.
Cold. When the mark burned, it was cold. Ice magic, cold magic, snow magic. That must be the missing piece, in the system, in me. I didn't know it like a fact but I needed it to be true. I went north.
I found Blink, after. I think I understood him more, then. I asked him what I should do next.
"Whatever you want," he said. "Raise a mighty tower with every luxury you can imagine. Pull an army of ice trolls from under the tundra and claim the southlands for your own. Conquer your homelands, revenge yourself on your enemies. Or turn your back on the south. Go to the frozen library and learn from those lost to the past. Or," he concluded, "Go and see the Mote."
Few snow wizards do. It is not without risk. The Mote is the tiny spot of perfect cold that fuels this slow age of glaciation. Perfect stillness. Perfect power. Some who see it go mad or blind or both. Some achieve powers impossible to a mere snow wizard.
I went on the journey. Eventually.
I was not alone. Another of us, outerly named Sabre, heard that I was contemplating the journey and sought me out. "We should make the climb together," she said. "When you go blind I will lead you back down."
"And when you go mad," I said, "I will remind you who you are."
We set out. As one climbs toward the Mote snow magic becomes harder. There is more power, but it is all drawn upward, toward that absolute coldness, and very little remains to use.
We buried ice trolls in an avalanche, slew a frost dragon with blades Sabre forged from icicles and I sharpened to deadly ages, confronted simulacra of our darkest sides, navigated a maze of narrow bridges over mile-deep chasms in near-perfect darkness. We began to feel cold again for the first time in years, and huddled together for warmth, and more.
We reached the top just as the Mote died, shattering into shards of normal deep cold just beneath our horizon. Nothing lasts forever, and this age of snow wizardry, of spreading cold over ever more of the world will slowly come to an end, retreat to equality with the other magics known in warmer lands.
There was one thing that Blink did not suggest. "Find love and enjoy it." I don't think he considered it possible even with near-omnipotence in our realm. I do.
|# ? Mar 1, 2021 05:54|
content warning: don't read this thnx
crabrock fucked around with this message at 06:52 on Dec 6, 2021
|# ? Mar 1, 2021 07:21|
Rayna huddled against the treehouse wall as howls rose up from below. She’d heard tales of wolves when she was younger, heard their cries mimicked by elders long after the last one died. This didn’t sound like those long, harmonising notes. This was guttural, violent, like a man mid-punch had been suspended in the night air.
Once they learnt to fence them out, the devils didn’t do much more than gently caress and yell all night. Before they learnt to fence them out, devils tore across the taiga and the tundra in an endless moonlit stampede of grisly appetites.
Rayna poked the fire to ensure the beacon stayed lit. She’d never been close enough to a devil to make out more than a flash of red fur and snarling teeth. She thought that was a pretty sensible approach, given that the only people she knew who’d been closer were pock-marked bones in the dirt now.
She looked out from the watchpost at the glinting beacons in the distance. Other watchers, sign-posting the devil-swarm so that travellers on foot would know to steer clear. Other watchers, alone in their makeshift lighthouses save for bugs and birds for months at a time.
She leaned over the railing and bellowed at her nearest neighbour, some kilometres away “I can deal with the loneliness, but are y’all as horny as I am?!”
Her words were devoured by the devils’ racket before a sound had even got past her teeth. The feeling didn’t. She was so inescapably, painfully alone. Her skin screamed out for contact, untouched for some fourteen weeks. Every night below her, the devils hosed like.. like devils, and she was up here trying to figure out where to put her hands because her whole body felt like it was endlessly halfway off a cliff above a swimming hole - ready for her heart to drop as she plummeted but..
“gently caress” she summarised neatly, before flinging herself bodily against her bedding pile. She undressed in an impotent rage, getting tangled in her clothes in the process and falling asleep dreaming of a warm, tight embrace.
By day, she could hear bird-song. Below the howling had stopped, replaced instead with a quiet thrumming from the sleeping mass of devils. Murmurations of insects swum between the trees, lazily meandering across the forest. Some landed near her rain catcher before she shooed them away with an old jandal.
One of the bugs, its carapace a breathtaking blue and green shimmer, hopped far enough to avoid the jandal but definitely not far enough to show it was bothered. Taking this as an invitation, Rayna let the walls down.
“..I mean it’s literally been months now. I feel like it’s pretty natural to be in this state, you know? Oh god, do you think they’ll be able to tell?”
The bug didn’t move much, soaking up the sun and tooling about in gentle circles. Rayna went about her day glad for the company, pouring out the weeks in a torrent for her new friend.
“..I just, I just really need a loving hug, man. I’m dying out here. Not actually dying dying, but..”
The bug knew what she meant. It was a tough situation.
The night and all it’s cacophony drew nearer, she could hear the devils rousing beneath the canopy. She drew her bug friend closer, letting him wander onto a finger gingerly while she leaned in close to speak above the din.
“They get to gently caress! How fair is that? This is some bullshit, little bud.”
It really was some bullshit. She poked the fire, sending embers up for the breeze to catch, watching them dance toward her neighbours but fizzle out before they’d made it out of spitting distance.
She curled up on her bedthings, letting the insect wander across her hand - luxuriating a little in stimulation that was neither caused by her nor inanimate objects.
She must have dozed off, as she awoke to the fading screams of the devil flock as they collapsed after another night’s screamfucking. There was another sound too. It was tinny, but not bright, like dropping a twig down a wooden pipe. It took Rayna some time to work out where it was coming from and that it was a word. She figured out the easy part quickly enough, it was coming from her ear - the problem was that the hard part requires further investigation while the dawn was punctuated by the odd halfhearted grunt scream from a tired devil. She got there in the end though, it was her bug friend.
She fished him out of her tangled hair and away from her ear, setting him softly on her small tabletop. She leaned in close, watching him - she wondered briefly why she gendered bugs the way she did but quickly refocused. Her bug friend was scraping his legs in an odd pattern, slower than a cicada would but fast enough to generate noise. She narrowed her eyes as the quiet croak cut through a lull in the fading screams.
Her bug friend toodled about like it hadn’t just replicated human speech, happy to bask in the sunshine. Occasionally it started its odd clickscratch talking again, a poor facsimile for a human voice but definitely a word.
The bug had been listening, somehow reproducing Rayna’s most frequent utterance. She felt heard and horrifically embarrassed all at once, her face reddened and blood pulsing through her ears temporarily blocked out the insect communication revolution.
The bug was unphased, and continued to roam the table while Rayna sat in shock for a while.
“No, you know what. No. No you don’t get to just take ‘horny’ out of yesterday.”
She spent the morning washing herself, checking the hanging gardens, changing the filters on the fuel distillery, and stripping a few branches from the higher parts of the trees that held up her little hut. Every minute she had the bug sat nearby, and she repeated.
“It’s okay to be lonely, and it’s okay to be horny. I miss people. I miss being touched.”
She did what little laundry there was to do, she inventoried the cupboards, she prepped the fire for the evening, she chewed on seeds while she made a paste out of the fast-growing lichen that sustained her and her distant colleagues. She repeated.
“It’s okay to be lonely, and it’s okay to be horny. I miss people. I miss being touched.”
She stoked the fire while the terror orgy kicked off below. She let the bug sit on her nose while she lay on her back, her mantra constantly on her lips.
The next morning she couldn’t find the bug. It wasn’t in her hair, she couldn’t hear it anywhere. She watched the small, lithe swarms wend their way through the treetops and wondered if her bug was among them.
Days passed, and she’d begun to put her horny bug experience down as an hallucination. A weird manifestation of her desire for contact. Weeks passed. Nights after nights of the devils rutting and roaring. Days after days of quiet frustration, loud frustration, and some spectrum of the in-betweens.
Rayna sat in the afternoon sun, gazing out at the vista she stewarded. Spruces smothered the valley, ranging and roving over hills and down valleys, viridescent and stark against the crisp blue sky. She sighed, both in awe of the scene and in being unable to share it with someone. She wept, eyes wide as the late afternoon sun dipped toward the inevitable devilry of the early evening.
Cicadas chirped in chorus in the last gasps of the day’s light. Except, they weren’t cicadas. The tree behind her shimmered blue-green as thousands of tiny carapaces rippled and shook, while tiny legs scratched against them.
~kay~to/be~horny. I/miss~peo~ple. I
The chorus continued.
She watched the fires light up along the beacon line.
|# ? Mar 1, 2021 07:27|
Oceans With No End
Prompt: Orangutan Surfing Civilization
Word Count: 1499
Billy Bonesaw’s brains were dashed on the rocks amongst the wreckage of a vintage Coronet and surfboards. Six Kudat Bay Kruiser’s stood in semi-circle around the gruesome accident. Despite the setting sun and gnarled machinery, Ken could see the freshly etched ‘localz only’ vandalism prominently on the driver side door.
“Who cares, he’s just some god drat skug gibbon,” Big Tim said, taking a pull from his glass bottle of Shōjō, his favorite imported white sake. It was true. Billy Bonesaw was a gibbon, poaching waves on a local orangutan beach.
“Oh gently caress, oh gently caress, that’s Billy Bonesaw, he’s an enforcer for the Gibbon Liberation. Oh gently caress man, oh gently caress,” said Jangles. Ken wondered if the wire cutters still in Big Tim’s pockets felt as heavy as his stomach did right now. Ken started to sweat, even in the evening breeze.
“I just wanted to scare him, is all, poo poo,” said Big Tim. He took a pull from his bottle and spiked it amidst the flotsam of Billy’s car.
“What do we do?” asked another Kruiser, Greg.
“We gotta ask Shaka-Brah,” Ken said finally. The Kruiser’s left Billy to the gulls and picked their way silently through the rocky shore underneath the cliff side. When they would come back in the morning, Shaka would be there. That night Ken could not sleep. The viscera and brain matter splattered on the rocks, the leaking motor oil, the rent metal, each time he pushed a detail out of his head a new one replaced it. He grabbed his board and headed out the door early.
Expectedly, Ken arrived first. The crash site was untouched by wave but looted by scavenger. Ken felt disgusted with himself that he wanted to know if gulls liked the taste of brains. Despite his early start, there was a solitary rider out in the ocean. The only board it could belong to was Shaka Bakka, the Philosurfer King of Kudat. Ken paddled out to the lone orangutan and hailed him.
“Did you see the wreck at the bottom of the cliff?” Ken asked.
“He was part of the Liberation.”
Shaka nodded again.
“We need help, I don’t know what to do.”
“A life without challenges, is an ocean with no waves,” Shaka said.
The ocean receded and it felt as though the water had a piece of his soul and was pulling him into the grainy sunless horizon.
“What? He’s loving dead, man.”
There was no answer. Shaka caught the wave and Ken lost sight of him. By the time dawn had broken, the crash scene was covered in bystanders. Before long, an ambulance and cops were swarming the scene. Ken’s gut felt like he’d eaten an urchin, and he was in toweling off at his car before any of the other Kruiser’s. As he pulled out of his spot, someone wearing a long coat stepped out from two cars and waved at him. Ken slammed the accelerator, sending gravel shooting backwards, and he peeled out of the Bay’s parking lot.
The wreck gnawed at him. All he thought about were the wire cutters, spark plugs Big Tim used to bust windows, the ceramic shiv that usually found its way into doors or tires of skugs who tried to crowd out the waves. It was an accident, but how couldn’t he have realized this was an inevitability. In the waves, Ken only found time to think.
“Don’t suppose you knew that gibbon, Benny, from a couple weeks ago, seems he was a surfer,” a voice came from behind Ken when he was hooking his board to the car one evening.
Ken spun, surprised to see a police officer, and a bonobo at that.
“Sorry, didn’t mean to spook you. Detective Rosemend.”
“No, never met him.”
“You know, I saw you that day in the parking lot. Guy like you, I bet you’re out there all day, but you left early, I tried to flag you down, but you took off.”
“Sorry about that. Bad mojo. Kind of killed the vibe,” Ken said.
“Yeah. Killed the vibe. Mr…?”
“Ken. Ken Allen.”
“I thought all the local boys knew each other?”
“I said I didn’t know him.”
“That’s a shame. Lot of peculiarities that I just can’t come up with an answer for, for instance, not a lot of fellas drink imported whale booze. Liberation boys like Benny don’t. So, it’s kind of weird to find a busted-up bottle of Shōjō right there. Like someone else might have been there and didn’t say anything about it.”
“Could have been a friend of his, left it in the car,” Ken said.
“Yeah, that’s what I thought at first. But then I had the boys at the lab put it back together and run some prints on it. Hard to get a full print but got enough to know it was ‘ranga. Pretty strange, yeah, a gibbon hanging out with an orangutan?”
“I’ve seen stranger.”
“I bet you have. I bet you have Mr. Allen. Anyway, anything jogs your memory. Please let me know. Someone’s going to find out what happened first, and it would be in everyone’s best interest if that someone was me.”
For no good reason, to lift their spirits, the Kruiser’s threw a bonfire on the beach. The crew had gone back to their routine, and the cops had stopped asking questions. Ken thought about Benny less often, but it never went away. It had been just an accident, a blurb on the nightly news, and everything went back to normal. Mostly. Little Tim and Jangles ran up to the parking lot to do another beer run. They heard the gunshots from the beach.
A carload of gibbons had jumped them, and Detective Rosemend’s gruff suspicion was met again with silence. For a while after Jangles and Little Tim murders, the Kruiser’s laid low. Every so often Ken would pass by just to see, but now there were so many new cars at the lot of Kudat Bay that he kept driving. His sleepless nights relived the moment he crested the stairs from the bonfire.
He saw Little Tim first, face down in the gravel, and it seemed more surreal than Benny’s death. Benny’s death was comical in its grotesquery. It was alien, and shocking, but Little Tim was just like he had drunkenly passed out on the ground a hundred times before. And he thought about Rosemend, and if he had laid Big Tim on the pyre, would Little Tim and Jangles still be alive.
The phone rang.
“Good evening Mr. Allen, this is Detective Rosemend.” Ken knew the sound of his voice and wondered why he kept introducing himself. “I’m afraid I have some bad news, and good news.”
“That’s a weird way of saying that.”
“Depends on who’s hearing it, I suppose. The bad news is, we’re not going to be able to put those Gibbon boys on trial for your murdering your friends. The good news, I guess, is because they got killed in an unrelated military raid.”
“What does that mean?”
“It means, consider yourself lucky, Mr. Allen,” Detective Rosemend said. “I’m closing the case. You won’t be hearing from me again.”
The next morning, still paranoid to be seen in the parking lot, Ken opted to park at the lookout. The guard rail where Billy had lost control had been repaired, but the shiny chrome replacement stood out like a bruise. At the top, an unfamiliar car was parked. Panic gripped Ken and he slammed on the brakes. No one was in the car waiting for him, no where to hide to ambush him. He crept slowly to park near it, and he could see shattered glass on the ground near the car, its sideview mirror freshly bashed in. Big Tim’s distinctive ‘skug’ key-scrawl etched onto the hood.
Picking his way gingerly down the lookout trail, Ken came across the small crater of rocks where the mangled Coronet had given Billy up to the rocks. The rocks were still stained with motor oil. Ken paddled out, wanting to be as far away from Big Tim and the gang as possible. Surprisingly, Shaka bobbed in the water not far from where Ken was heading.
“Shaka-Brah, I can’t stop thinking about Little Tim and Jangles. I think I could have done something. Am I-am I a bad person?”
“There is no such thing as a bad surfer, only an impatient one,” Shaka said.
But before Ken received an answer, Shaka glided away, borne on a wave destined to reunite him to the shore where the other Kudat Kruiser’s surely gathered. And so, he turned his eyes away from the beach and towards the cliff.
Waves broke across the bay for other surfers, but Ken sat motionless on his board. He could not avert his eyes from where Billy’s car had plummeted. He felt the movement of the ocean beneath him and knew there were no waves to look for.
|# ? Mar 1, 2021 07:27|
A Day For Black Salt
New World nation: Home of the Horrible "Hung-Ups", the Death Worshippers
After so many years preparing, Uncle Cinder-in-Bone was wasting his death. The old man hung from the oracles' scaffold, limp against the metal hooks and leather straps that held him, and silent except for heaving breaths. He'd hung for an hour already, and One-Month-Feverish had expected him to begin his death-song within minutes, once the initial shock had blossomed into agony. How could his voice had failed him? They'd practiced so long, the two of them. No death in the realm had been so carefully cultivated.
"Uncle," whispered One-Month into his radio. "Uncle Cinder. Say something." It took him a moment to remember that the radio was one-way, just receiving and recording from Uncle's transmitter -- a foolish mistake, and a childish one. At least there was nobody around to notice; even the priests had left, and the lay worshippers had congregated around the hung-up oracles who'd begun their death-songs, off in the other courtyards. Uncle Cinder had no blood family left, and his professional mourners had all made their excuses. One-Month was alone, and the weight of that made it hard to stay standing, let alone meet his master's dying eyes.
Still, One-Month had his duty, and he forced his head up to stare at Uncle Cinder -- who was moving. Slowly, with a burst of tortured wheezing, the old man turned his head towards One-Month, with a terrible focus in his eyes He was mouthing words, which came through as whispers in One-Month's radio: "One-Month. Black. Salt."
One-Month took off running.
The black salt was at the back of the drug vault, sealed in a priest-locked box, but Uncle Cinder'd taught him the combination years ago; the polished metal dials slipped under his sweaty hands, but soon enough, it was open. One-Month gently extracted one of the tiny single-dose vials from the foam padding. Inside were a few scant milligrams of sticky black powder, little enough that he could start the preparation in the vial itself. One-Month set it down on the workbench, pulled on gloves and goggles, and finally felt the beginnings of calm.
Preparing a solution of plain black salt was simple: dissolution in propylene glycol, a centrifuge step for clarity, and that was that. A plain black-salt injection wouldn't do here, though. It was half entheogen, half analgesic -- good to call the ancestors, but without your pain, how would they ever find you? This solution would need the antagonist, and a moment's search turned it up on the reagent shelf: a plastic canister, its pre-Disaster labeling worn off, but relabeled in Uncle Cinder's precise hand as "Bishop's Lunch." One-Month had never had handwriting half as neat, or an organization system half as rigorous. He'd ruin it all within a week once this shop was his, wouldn't he?
One-Month put his hands down on the cool surface of the workbench. This wasn't the time to think about the future. Drug preparation was a matter of the present and a careful plan, and his was nearly ready. The black salt would open the gates, the Bishop's Lunch would hold them open, and then... dragonfly powder for delirium? It wasn't as if the side effects could matter now.
From his shirt pocket, One-Month's radio broadcast the steady sound of ragged breathing. Uncle Cinder hadn't broken through on his own, but he was still alive, and there was time for the preparation. One-Month had done a thousand simple dissolutions, and what was one more? This wasn't a curative order. There wasn't even any need to centrifuge.
One-Month added solvent first, and the black salt melted like a dream; the solution always looked like the thin grey slime on the shore of the Bay of Black Oil, which was Uncle Cinder's sure sign that the solution was correct. Next came five grains of Bishop's Lunch, which sank to the bottom of the mixture, and two grains of dragonfly powder, which fizzed and sublimated away almost as soon as One-Month capped the vial. A minute of agitation on the vortexer, and it was done. One-Month grabbed a syringe, one with the thinnest-gauge needle he thought could manage the solution, and he packed his pockets to run back.
Now was the matter of the dosing. How long had it been, One-Month thought, since he'd gone climbing?
Uncle Cinder's courtyard was still deserted when One-Month returned, but the solitude didn't help his racing heart. He stripped off his lab gloves -- how could he have left them on? -- and wiped the sweat from his hands before approaching the scaffolding. The rusty metal creaked as One-Month set a foot on a lower bar, but his hands found a grip, and he began the ascent. His muscles burnt by halfway up the wall, and his fingers trembled, but his body pushed him forward. As long as it had been since he'd been in Spandar territory, he hadn't quite forgotten the forest arts.
At last, One-Month pulled himself onto the narrow wooden catwalk behind Uncle Cinder's suspension point. Up close, the old man reeked of sweat and copper; dark blood seeped from the hooks that held him, and foamy bile covered his chin. When he turned his head to face One-Month, it was with a grimace of agony -- but still, his eyes were bright. "Boy. You brought it?"
"I brought it." One-Month knelt down next to him and began to prepare the syringe. "Black salt, Bishop's Lunch, and dragonfly powder. Is... is that what you wanted? Is it all right?"
"Good. Good instinct. Throat."
"But it'll bleed," said One-Month by reflex; Uncle Cinder, with slow deliberation, gave him one last withering glance. "Right. Right, the throat. Hold on."
One-Month raised the syringe, inhaled, and plunged it home into Uncle Cinder's carotid artery. The needle was slow to empty, too slow, and by the time he withdrew it, Uncle Cinder was already twitching. The song would come soon, and One-Month couldn't be seen to have caused it. The sentence for producing false oracles was death by morphine, quick and shameful, and burial in the pit. "Uncle," One-Month stammered, "I -- thank you. I'll do my best with the shop. Thank you for everything."
"Good boy." Every syllable came through gritted teeth, now, as Uncle Cinder fought the drugs for one final moment. "Always a good boy. Now run."
One-Month blunted the needle in the vial, stuck his supplies in his pocket, and clambered back down the scaffolding. Uncle Cinder had began to keen, and One-Month could hear the footsteps of approaching priests. He had to run, had to destroy the evidence, before someone came looking for him. He dropped from the scaffolding and fell into a crouch, trying to catch his breath, and froze as Uncle Cinder's voice erupted in stereo, from above him and from his forgotten radio: "Rib-Catches-Lung! Rib, guide me..."
Slowly, One-Month exhaled and let himself slump to the ground. Uncle Cinder's voice rose, from a wail to a scream to a full-lunged howl, and took on the strange syllables of the ancestral language of the oracles. A few priests were in the courtyard now, staring raptly and raising their recorders, and One-Month knew more would come, but none of them could ever notice him. When you were witnessing a miracle, who cared about a simple mourner?
One-Month lay back onto the hard-packed earth of the courtyard, staring up at the darkening sky. The space behind the scaffolding smelled of rust and soil, but the wind carried the scent of sacred agony from above, and he thought of his own sweat and fear. What would his own death smell like? Would he have the privilege to hang? Would he have the chance to sing?
He'd have his chance, he told himself. He'd cultivate a good life and an honest death -- and if that failed, there were other compoundings for black salt. A lozenge under his tongue would produce a fine delirium, without having to depend on an apprentice with a needle. Uncle Cinder, he hoped, would be proud.
|# ? Mar 1, 2021 07:31|
Submissions are closed.
|# ? Mar 1, 2021 08:11|
You don't have to be, but it helps
It can be difficult living in the Mad Hole with the rest of the Screamers, I’ve got to be honest. Like, I really do have to be honest because we’re all psychic. You can try and and lie, but it doesn’t work.
For instance if you’re really hungry but you’re at a friend’s house and they only have slime to eat (and you don’t like slime) then you can’t say “I’m not hungry,” because they’ll know that you are hungry and that you just don’t like slime! Normally people will understand because slime is horrible and smells like rotting flesh, but sometimes it can be awkward.
I guess that’s another way in which it’s difficult living in the Mad Hole, which is that we often have to eat things like slime because (among other reasons) we’re feared and hated by the entire rest of the Earth. Even the Murderous Kanga Rats are rude about the Screamers, it’s hurtful.
I’ll give you an example of what it can be like, just so you understand. If you were a Screamer it would be easy because I could just beam all the necessary examples and junk into your head, but then I guess if you were a Screamer you’d already know that it sort of sucks to be one.
Anyway, picture a big pool, like one of those ones they had before the Disaster. Lots of blue water and people who are all humans playing round and having a good time swimming and speaking words. And then someone explodes, in the middle of the pool and there’s blood and guts and stuff all over the place, and that blood sort of percolates through the pool? So your nice blue pool that you were in is turning red and people are going ew, gross, and, and more importantly it’s not only the people who are actually in the red blood part of the pool that are saying words like, “I hate this,” and “I want to get out of this pool?” It’s everyone else, they’re seeing it and getting the vibe from the screaming and the splashing and the way the pool has gone red.
That’s basically what it’s like for us.
I mean, we’re the people in the pool, and we’re wanting to get out, and, well, unfortunately no-one will let us because everyone hates us (as I noted before) and so we’re stuck in the Mad Hole, or as we like to call it THE MAD HOLE because we’re screaming all the time, you see.
I’d like to run a store.
I don’t even know what kind of store, just one that sold stuff, maybe little things like you’d put on your table. Dishes, and vases, and maybe woven mats. All kinds of things.
Sorry, that was a bit of a leap, but often when I think about how things are not great my mind sort of jumps to something that might be better and for me that would be running a store. People would come in and I’d look at them and I’d know exactly what they wanted, and I could smile a bit and say “I know exactly what you need!” and disappear into the back and come out a bit later and they’d look at whatever I’d brought out and they’d say “yes!” Or, “that’s it!”.
Maybe they wouldn’t say anything, but they’d have that expression on their face and I’d just know. Because I’m psychic, obviously, but even without that I like to think I could tell.
I’m glad I found you, you know. It’s so good talking to someone who isn’t screaming at me, and vice versa, it’s really relaxing on my throat.
I mean I’m also sorry you had to die when you got thrown all the way down into the Mad Hole and you caught on this ledge. I think your neck broke, maybe? I’m really sorry. You look like you would have been a nice person and we could have screamed at each other if you weren’t dead, but, but this is good too.
I’m just going to sit here for a bit longer and talk to you if that’s okay, with my voice. It's a long way to the bottom and I often wonder what would happen if I jumped in.
I often wonder that.
|# ? Mar 1, 2021 08:13|
Oh for goodness sake. Fine, now submissions are closed.
|# ? Mar 1, 2021 08:18|
Simbyotic, BB2K, Casual Encountess, Idle Amalgam, and ibntumart had succumbed to the glorious life on New Earth and failed to submit.
|# ? Mar 1, 2021 08:30|
In with Raji Land, Home of a Million Sleepers
this has until judgment is posted to avoid the ban.
|# ? Mar 2, 2021 00:02|
The End of the Dream
over word count late unedited garbage
Raji land energized by hatred
I had spent my life farming gourd-wine like my father and his father before him. That didn’t change after I had met Teeku. Teeku was worldly, I guess it comes naturally being able to soar through the skies, and I was afraid my simple country lifestyle wouldn’t be enough to hold his interest. I’m glad I was wrong. I tended our vineyard during the day, while he worked for a tech company in the city. Not my cup of tea, but we found enough common ground.
I was headed back from the fields early that day. I had went down to the river and snared some fish for a stew since I had given up hunting as a promise to Teeku. If I stalk the jungles for a flank of wild deer it’s cruel, but if I bring back a basket of gape-mouthed fish, no harm done. A decent enough compromise for peace of mind. That man means the world to me and – I can smell something is off before I can see our home. A few meters further and I can see smoke breaking the tree line. There’s also the coppery scent of blood weighing heavy on the air. I drop the fish and instinctively drop to all four, galloping over branches and through dense thickets of overgrown foliage until the house comes into view.
There’s a well-dressed tiger with blood soaked into the fur around his mouth. Gore and feathers clung to his claws. Teeku laid at his feet a mangled mess of broken limbs. Blood pooled around him slowly. The tiger sees me and shoots me a wicked grin. I’m already charging at him. I snatch a wood axe free from a fence post and I have it hefted over my head to bury in that stupid fuckers crown.
I don’t see his henchman, a rhino-mutate clad in a black suit, burst from the brush. He gores my side with his horn and I go flying into my burning house and crash into a support beam that cracks from all six hundred pounds of me slamming into it. He crushed my rib, punctured a lung maybe. I get up to move, not retaliate, just move. I’m too disoriented to do even that and another blow comes from the front as the rhino charges through the doorway shouldering me through the post and to the side as crashes out the rear wall. The flaming roof groans above me as flames dance on the ceiling.
A bushy-bearded chimp in an identical black suit tossed Teeku’s ruined body into the flames and he lands near me looking up at me over his beak with dull eyes. A section of the roof collapses to the right of us and I’m knocked backwards onto the ground. I crawl towards the door and the well-dressed tiger stepped into view.
“I’m sure you have questions, but I’m afraid I have no satisfactory answers. Your companion has betrayed me, and that required certain… unpleasantries,” he says as he wipes away the remaining gore and blood from his person with a handkerchief that he tosses into the flames. “This was nothing personal.”
He leaned in and we examined one another. His stripes were patterned on his fur like mine and I felt as if I had known him at some point. I could see it in his eyes some recognition, but more disdain. Whatever business he had with Teeku, that was business. When he looked at me and saw the hatred in my eyes, that was personal. That was when we understood one another. The door frame collapsed leaving me to burn in the ruins of the house. They left me for dead, but my rage sustained me. Through the rolling flames dancing along the collapsed logs, even as my flesh and fur were being singed from my body.
It took about a year to regain my strength, but I went to Tigris as soon as I was able. I spent the next two years watching and learning. It turned out that Teeku was trying to blow the whistle on an illegal dream-milling operation. Dream recording and the distribution of recorded dreams in itself wasn’t illegal. It’s how Raji-land got its reputation for being the land of a million sleepers. While these role-fulfillment fantasies were the chief export of Raji-land, no one really cared to think about how these experiences were harvested. That’s where the illegal side of things came into play. Wealthy tourists and elite roamed the streets in guarded palanquins, while near naked children starved in the gutters. Fuel for the dream. Those that didn’t die would eventually get picked up with the promise of a hot meal and a warm bed. What they don’t tell them when they do, is that that they’ll be intubated and drugged, made to sleep for the rest of their short lives, having their dreams recorded and sold, while they withered and die. The old, sick and homeless as well.
It is true that some thought it preferable, even with the knowledge of the fate that awaited them, and knowing that I plan to go willingly almost makes it sound desirable, but I can’t rest yet. I won’t be able to rest until I’ve looked him in his eyes again and sunk my claws or fangs into his throat. Even if its with my dying breaths, until I’ve killed that man I won’t have peace. But if this plan is to work, I’ll need milkroot to restore wakefulness once the dream begins. A clinic near the slums is a front for one of the larger mills. I take a large dose of the milkroot and walk right in.
A kindly looking rat asks me why I’ve come to the clinic. “I tell her I’m tired of living in this world and I just want to sleep.” She smiles an understanding smile, and pushes counseling paperwork over the cabinet towards me. I push it back and lean in conspiratorially, “I need to sleep.” She nods and types something into her computer.
“Have a seat and someone will be right with you.” She says.
Two bearded chimps come and escort me from the lobby to a gurney where they sedate me. By the time I count to twenty, I’m out.
Sleep comes easily, and the milkroot kicks in not long after. My eyes peel open slowly, but I can’t control my body. The sedative hasn’t been completely counteracted. I’m moved into a vehicle, and we ride to a large factory on the outskirts of town. I doze off as the sedative rushes over me in another wave. I sleep, but thankfully, I don’t dream.
When I wake again, I immediately know I’m going to lose it. I feel my muscles spasm and my skin tingle. I register a network of tubes running into my snout and throat, and I can’t help bug gag. I fight against the tubes for a moment and begin to cough loud enough to draw attention. All around me are other dreamers on cold slabs like bodies in a morgue.
The two bearded chimps that wheeled me from the clinic see me and begin to panic. “Oh gently caress, we’ve got a sleepwalker. Grab more sedative will you.” the chimp closest to me says when the other points a finger at me, but it’s too late. I pull the first chimps head back and slam it hard against the ledge of the steel bed. He goes out like a light and I bound across the room at the other who backs against the door trying to let himself out. I’m on him when he slams a syringe into my shoulder and slinks away from me grabbing a scalpel off a medical tray. More sedative is coursing into my body, but not much more thankfully. The plunger was only a quarter of the way down, but it doesn’t take long for me to feel the effects.
My vision is blurry, and the chimp takes that as his opportunity to attack. I slam him by his throat against the wall. The scalpel bites into the flesh of my arm but doesn’t cut anything important. I yank it out and smear the blood on the chimps face with my free hand.
“Oh god, don’t kill me. Please don’t kill me.”
“If I wanted you dead, you’d be dead. Where’s the Dream Broker?”
“He’s got an office on the top floor, but you’ll never get to him alive. Not with his guards. You’re going to get yourself killed.”
I snatch his credentials and slam his head onto the ground. He falls unconscious and I quickly fill up two more of those sedative syringes. The alarm gets raised, and I’ve got no time to waste. I take the stairs all the way up until I can see the exit light for the roof above me.
I exit out into a long corridor where I’m immediately spotted by a patrolling rat guard. I put up my hands to show I have no weapon, then I slide the syringe out from my pocket just as he gets close. I slam it into his neck and use his body like a ram towards the end of the hall where other guards are now waiting.
I don’t stop, they have guns drawn, but I’m running with one of their own and they’re reluctant to shoot. I drop the body and lock the door behind me. The guards are beating on the door, but the Broker is just rolling up his sleeves and taking off his jewelry.
He’s smiling at me. “I recognize you… You’ve got a lot more scars and burn wounds than I remember, but that look in your eyes. Yes… I remember you well.”
I extend my claws and bare my fangs, and leap. His arms go wide, claws extended and fangs bared, to receive me. He sweeps upward in a powerful motion that shreds my shirt and just barely grazes my skin. I reach for the other syringe and I try to slam it into his thigh. He grabs my wrist and snaps at my throat with his fangs.
I manage to kick him off me, but he lands on all fours and sprints from side to side, leaping off his desk on top of me. We lock arms and roll through the office, when the doors finally burst open. He’s reaching on his desk for something, as I struggle with the syringe still clamped in my right hand that’s being held down. He raises a stone paper weight above his head and is about to crash it down onto my skull, when I manage to free my arm long enough to slide it between our bodies. As he cranes his head down to look at me, hand bringing a life ending bludgeon towards my face, I extend my arm forward stiffly, syringe pointed into the air and jab it into his eye. He rakes my faces with his hand as he drops the rock and kicks at me as we scramble away from one another.
The guards watch momentarily, and the broker has to get in a last line. “You thought you would win, you idiot. You thought something good would come of this?”
I grimace in response.
As he pivots his back to the window, signaling for a guard to kill me, I put my remaining bit of strength and animosity into a flying tackle, and we both go hurtling out the window from about nine stories up – high enough. I look up at the sun, and feel the wind on my back, and am reminded of the one awkward flight Teeku took me on, and I smile for the last time.
|# ? Mar 2, 2021 06:06|
|# ? Mar 2, 2021 06:51|
Hello travellers to strange and wondrous lands.
Lots of you fell into the same trap this week of getting all caught up in your worldbuilding and forgetting to give your protagonist any personality, desires, or in fact to have them take any meaningful actions at all. I guess this is our fault for finding you such a cool map to think about, but, it was only a month ago that I made you think about how you go about writing a convincing and memorable protagonist, so, *throws up hands in despair.*
But, onto the results. brotherly is getting a new avatar for writing a boring story full of jargon that ended even worse than it started.
There are no DMs.
Sebmojo’s screams reached us from the MAD HOLE, and he earns an HM for a story that wasn’t winning material, but was carried by the quality of its prose and the thoughtful ending. Azza Bamboo also earns an HM for a story that was far from polished, but whose spinning wheel of murderous kanga rats will stick in at least one judge’s head for some time to come. flerp gets an HM for a story that we all found touching.
Taking the win this week, with a story that had more emotional impact than all of the other entries this week combined, is crabrock. Welcome back to the throne.
|# ? Mar 2, 2021 18:48|
Crits for week 447
Hemp Bonds by brotherly
In the first section you establish the setting and introduce the protagonist, but you don’t tell us what he wants. The protagonist is just a cardboard-cutout company man, who sometimes thinks about leaving his job, but isn’t going to, and might be a bit of a dick. This is boring.
Two hours of questioning to enter a compound is a really long time. I hate sloppy details like this. Stop and think about this for a moment. Your protagonist has watched two people approach a fence, and then two hours later goes and meets them. What was he doing this whole time? Did someone at least offer them a cup of tea?? If you questioned me for two hours - particularly if this involved standing outside the whole time - I’d be very tired and pissed off by the time I got past the gate.
I am not enjoying all the finance jargon. You are overusing jargon to poor effect - you needed to pick a few specific terms to add colour to your setting, not just firehose nonsense at me.
Oooh kay… so the Gorillas want books and movies and whatnot, and they therefore can trade after all? That’s nice, but I really don’t care.
WHAT THE gently caress WHY DID GREGORY GET FLAYED? Wow that was an uncomfortably hard pivot from boring negotiations to horrifying violence.
This is competently written but the protagonist is MIA. He (I’ve already forgotten his name) has very little personality, and no desires beyond those handed to him by his job. He doesn’t do anything that affects the plot and really may as well have not been there at all. This is a very common trap to fall into, particularly when writing fantasy or otherwise complex settings - people get all caught up with worldbuilding and whatnot and forget that what really makes a story engaging, particularly one this short, is getting inside the protagonist’s head and seeing how they feel about, and respond to, whatever challenge the world has thrown at them.
the thin line between now and later by flerp
Godammit flerp why do you hate capitalised titles so much?
This is sweet. It is a fairly generic story of familial rejection, but I don’t think stories need to be any less powerful just because their subject matter is well-trodden ground.
What was missing for me in this story was agency from the protagonist. At his lowest point he hears the god talking from his drawer, and the god tells him what he needs to know to give him hope and strength to keep going. But he is very passive here - I think it would have been more satisfying to have him remember the god, and turn to it out of desperation or whatever - just so that it is his action that prompts the turnaround in the story, rather than a magic rock saving the day.
Spy Walks into a Bar by a friendly penguin
Holy poo poo what a boring start. Protagonist stares at door, walks in, sits down. Papers are shuffled. You should have condensed this whole opening section into one scene-setting paragraph, and then deleted it, because scene-setting is generally unnecessary; just start the story.
See? Look at the first three sentences of your second section - that would have made a way better opener.
Ok so I’ve read the whole thing now, and while I enjoyed the ride, I found it a bit confusing, and the ending was lame. The idea of people travelling to the spirit realm to try and trick the gods, while the gods use spirits to manipulate the living, is pretty cool, but you needed to focus on your protagonist, give them some clear desires, to make this more engaging.
A Tiger Can Change His Stripes by Nae
Wow that was boring. Competently written - your prose is nice and clear and the dialogue felt natural - but this was just 1500 words of two rats talking about solving a case that I don’t care about. These characters were all cardboard cutouts, there was no tension (they get the information they need without encountering any challenges) and no emotional content (even hard-bitten detectives need to feel feelings to be interesting).
Bat Mission by Sperglord Firecock
You’ve got lots of good action here, but what you’ve done is write an origin story for a crater, rather than tell us anything about Atra. Who is she? What does she want? What are the personal stakes for her for this mission? (Besides getting paid, that’s boring). If you’d given us a reason to root for the protagonist this could have been quite fun, but you didn’t, so it was dull.
Confessions of a Lion President: I Was a Teenage Content Creator by QuoProQuid
This is fine, but that’s it. Just fine. I guess it’s kind of funny, but the jokes are all too obvious. It feels like you probably had fun writing it, so that’s good.
The Killers by Baneling Butts
A family of killer whales tows a barge of stolen goods to a pirate market to sell. They barter with some lions and sell them some grenades. The protagonist in this story is a young whale, who has an interest in human goods. This pays off because he knows the grenades are valuable, and his grandmother approves. The end.
And that’s it. That’s literally all that happens. So. Boring.
If you’re thinking, “wait, that’s not fair, my story had pirate whales and lions and a distant war with the tigers and other cool poo poo it in, what more do you want from me so as to make it not boring?” then, the answer is: EMOTIONAL CONTENT. Make your protagonist an interesting character who feels feelings. Or, if you hate characters, then you need WAY MORE insane whale pirate action, not just this tedious interlude.
Vacancy - Assistant Production Operative by Azza Bamboo
Bones bones bones, lol.
Lots of weird colon and semicolon use; what’s up with that?
Wait, how on earth did their tails get tied together without them noticing?
Ok, the imagine of the spinning wheel of kanga rats is funny, but this is very silly.
And then it ends.
I feel like I’m saying this in every crit now, but, your protagonist doesn’t really do anything in this story, except have a weird first day at work.
Phase Changes by Thranguy
Thranguy, I think you got another crit recently that said your story was like the synopsis of a really awesome fantasy trilogy, and I’m afraid I think you’ve done it again. I would love to read the full series of novels about the adventures of this snow wizard; this synopsis makes it sound great.
Forever Young by crabrock
This story is very emotionally raw, and you did an excellent job of conveying, and pulling me into, the horror and hopelessness of this sort of grief.
I think it needed an edit to make it more punchy, as the beginning is a little slow to get going.
There’s something about Annie’s jokey tone that doesn’t quite land, and seems out of place given the poignancy of her grief. I also thought from her tone and the way you describe her movements that she is a young woman, but then we learn she died in her 80s. But, on the other hand, tossing around jokes like this to avoid talking about something painful is exactly what people do, and, fair enough once you’re dead that you don’t have to be encumbered by your old lady body. I think again another edit pass would have served to just make sure your reader wasn’t confused.
The ending landed beautifully.
New Dialect by steeltoedsneakers
This is good - the setting is interesting, the prose is good, and the protagonist’s emotional state is clear and relatable - but, like some of the other stories this week, it fell a little flat for me because of the lack of action on the protagonist’s part. Actually, it’s almost exactly like flerp’s story, where some magical thing comes along to deliver hope to the protagonist, which is lovely and all, but not super meaty as a reading experience.
Oceans With No End by Noah
This needed a proof read, e.g. the rogue apostrophe in “Kruiser’s,” and the prose is awkward in places.
I liked it, and I thought Ken was a good character, but I got a little confused about exactly what was happening in the middle section.
The main weakness in this story is the lack of action by the protagonist. This is a story about someone who has done something terrible, and now there is nothing he can do about it, so I realise that him not taking action is somewhat the point, but the whole “oh poo poo am I going to get arrested for murder” thing is resolved by a random third party event, which is fine but not super interesting to read. You should have focussed in more on his decision to distance himself from his former friends.
A Day For Black Salt by Antivehicular
You use your weird setting to good effect to tell a simple story about grief and one last act of kindness. But, I think you spent too many words on background details (like the over-long description of mixing the black salt) and not enough on the characters and their relationship. This would have been more poignant if you’d shown us more of what the uncle meant to his nephew, and how his death was impacting him (beyond just, oh no now I have to inherit the shop).
You don't have to be, but it helps by sebmojo
This is a great example of ‘lol, what?’ laced with seriousness, like a weird wobbly trifle that has so much sherry in it that after your third helping while round at your mate’s for dinner you realise that you might legitimately not be able to legally drive home, and you have to pause and have a serious think about your life decisions.
This story works because, while it is light on details and even lighter on explanation as to wtf the MAD HOLE is, the details we do have are the ones that matter. The protagonist is lightly sketched and yet the fact that they hold onto their small dream despite their hopeless situation is very relatable. The prose is fun and the ridiculous tone provides a nice counterpoint to the heavy emotional note that it ends on.
However, it feels like you only worked out where this was going halfway through writing it. You needed to go back and edit the beginning to properly telegraph your ending and tie the whole thing together. MAYBE YOU SHOULD HAVE STARTED EARLIER AND NOT WAITED UNTIL AFTER THE DEADLINE HAD PASSED TO POST.
The End of the Dream by Idle Amalgam
DQ’d for lateness.
Wow, another story that is all exposition and action sequence and zero character. What is with this week. At least it is the protagonist’s actions that drive the story forward in this one.
The action sequences aren’t terribly written, the problem is more that that’s all there is to the story, so what should be exciting gets boring very quickly.
|# ? Mar 2, 2021 18:58|
Interprompt: What the gently caress Did You Just loving Say About Me, You Little Bitch??
Obliterati fucked around with this message at 19:47 on Mar 2, 2021
|# ? Mar 2, 2021 19:45|
Interprompt: What the gently caress Did You Just loving Say About Me, You Little Bitch??
The President of Pizza
WHO THE gently caress DIED AND MADE YOU THE PRESIDENT OF PIZZA??? YOU THINK BECAUSE YOU ONCE BURNT A SIGNATURE SELECT SPICY ITALIAN SAUSAGE PIZZA IN YOUR MOMS TOASTER OVEN, YOU CAN COME IN HERE AND ARGUE WITH MY 42 YEARS OF PIZZA-EATING EXPERIENCE? YOU PART-SKIM MOTZERELLA MOTHERFUCKER. YOU BARBEQUE CHICKEN BITCH. YOURE’ PROBABLY ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE WHO RESPONDS TO TWITTER POLLS ABOUT WHETHER CHICAGO-STYLE IS A PIZZA OR A CASERROLE. PEOPLE LIKE YOU MAKE ME WANT TO SHOVE MY PIZZA PEEL UP MY OWN rear end, PEEL FIRST; BUT YOU WOULDNT KNOW WHAT THAT LOOKS LIKE, WOULD YOU?? YOU’RE A TRAY-USING TITOS-EATER, SHOVING A BIG OVEN MITT OVER HIS SMALL DICK BECAUSE HE’S AFRAID OF A BABY-PISS-COLD 425 DEGREES. 425 DEGREES; DONT MAKE ME LAUGH. MY HANDCRAFTED BRICK OVEN REGULARLY RUNS AT OVER 1500 DEGREES KELVIN. IN THE TIME IT WOULD TAKE YOU TO BLOW THE FROST OFF OF YOUR RED BARON MINIS, I CAN MAKE THREE NEOPOLITAN MARGERITAS. DO YOU EVEN KNOW WHAT THAT IS?? OF COURSE YOU DONT’, BECAUSE IT’S NOT ONE OF THE DOGSHIT SAUCELOGS YOU SOLD DOOR-TO-DOOR WITH YOUR BOYSCOUT TROOP WHILE YOUR MOM WAS SUCKING THE LITTLE CESAR’S GUYS’ UNCOOKED BREADSTICK DICK. MAYBE IF HED STUCK TO HER SLICEHOLE INSTEAD OF BLASTING HIS RANCH DIP IN HER OVEN, I WOULDNT’ HAVE TO SIT HERE READING YOUR lovely POSTS ABOUT WHAT MAKES A GOOD PIZZA. “DOMINOES ISN’T BAD IN A PINCH?” YEAH, NEITHER WAS THE HOLOCAUST, YOU PERSONAL PAN POLESMOKER. gently caress YOU. GO TO DR. OETKER AND ABORT YOURSELF.
|# ? Mar 2, 2021 20:14|
You did NOT just loving say what I think you said
You really hosed!!! up giving us (me and my wife), a SMALL FAMILY OWNED MORTH CAROLINAA American BUSINESS... a one-star review on Yelp
Our PROUD FAMILY TRADITION... mulching small ethnic children into feed for hogs SUSTAINS OUR ECONOMY, and meanwhile you and your LIBERAL! STAANIST! PEDOPHILE! friends complain about SAFETY STANDARDS... and NORO VIRUS well let me tell you SOMETHING punk
I LIVE IN THE LAND OF THE FREE!!!... and you and your dirty communist ideas about DISEASE TRANSMISSION and FEED STOCK dont matter any to me
I have ALREADY... contacted the AMERICA SHOOTERS SOCEITY HUMAN ASSAULT TEAM our local brave militia and TOLD THEM about you... AND YOUR COMMIE TREASON and they TOLD ME that they have a GUY that WILL FIND YOU!...
|# ? Mar 2, 2021 20:40|
Open Letter to a Tetrapod, 375 M.Y.A.
Get back in the water your four-leg bitch! The gently caress you thinking coming around here on land with them weak rear end limbs?! WE. OWN. THIS. poo poo. We got roaches the size of goddamn dogs and you won't ever know what a motherfucking dog is because YOU ARE GOING TO GET BACK IN THE loving OCEAN WHERE YOU BELONG. I know you all woke cause this is the late Devonian period but if you ain't got a lot of knees and compound eyes then your vertebrate rear end is just begging to get got as soon as you poke your big-brain head out the water. Oh look at that your boy just got rolled up by a dragonfly! Makes u think rite?! And don’t bring that lung poo poo around here we already got those. Not them gross rear end damp gills you rolling with either. Proper lungs. Book lungs. Our lungs are educated motherfucker. And don’t get me started on that stupid bone poo poo. Who the gently caress keeps their bones on the inside and their soft tissue on the outside? Some dumbass vertebrate that’s who. Meat just hangin out all over your raggedy rear end. Growth-limited bitches. Always crying about your calcium and magnesium. GO BACK TO THE WATER. You gotta go in the water to do your nasty rear end loving anyway. Ladies just squirting out their eggs in some funky puddle and your dudes just nutting in the water everywhere. You don’t even know who fertilized you! We trying to keep it clean so don’t bring that poo poo around here. Can’t even chew your motherfucking food.
Bet you motherfuckers don’t even know about palps.
|# ? Mar 2, 2021 21:15|
Nailed the word count with a topic near and dear to my heart!
FOR THE LAST loving TIME, A HOTDOG IS NOT A SANDWICH. ONLY DUMB rear end BUFFOONS LIKE YOU, RAISED ON MEMES AND DOUBLE DOWNS, COULD POSSIBLY BELIEVE SUCH A THING. YOUR GENERATION COULD BE SOLVING CLIMATE CHANGE OR CANCER, BUT INSTEAD YOU TERMINALLY ONLINE MORONS FOCUS ON THIS poo poo. OKAY. LET ME LAY IT OUT TO YOU IN THREE EASY STEPS, IF YOUR STUNTED MILLENNIAL ATTENTION SPAN MAKES IT THAT FAR. STOP ME IF I USE ANY BIG WORDS YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND, LIKE UNEQUIVOCAL OR FRANKFURTER.
ONE: HOTDOGS ARE ROUND. I KNOW YOUR DICK COMPARES UNFAVORABLY TO THE AVERAGE BALLPARK DOG, BUT AT LEAST IT ISN'T FLAT OR SHREDDED LIKE PROPER SANDWICH MEAT. (I ASSUME; IF IT IS, CONDOLENCES.) DON'T TALK TO ME ABOUT MEATBALLS, THOSE ARE OBVIOUSLY DIFFERENT YOU FUCKWIT.
TWO: HOTDOGS ARE VERTICAL. FOR THOSE OF YOU THAT HAD TO REPEAT THIRD GRADE, THAT MEANS THE EDGES OF THE BUN GO UP AND DOWN NOT SIDE TO SIDE. I DON'T GIVE A gently caress ABOUT FROOFY SANDWICHES SERVED UPRIGHT AT PRETENTIOUS CAFES, IT'S ABOUT HOW IT'S EATEN. WHO TURNS THEIR HOTDOGS SIDEWAYS TO EAT THEM? PSYCHOPATHS, THAT'S WHO. SAME WITH TACOS, YOU GOT TO MOVE YOUR STUPID PIEHOLE TO EAT IT SO YOU DON'T GET MUSTARD ALL OVER YOUR CROTCH.
THREE: SETTING, MOTHERFUCKER. YOU EVER HAD A SANDWICH AT A BARBECUE? AT A STADIUM? AND NO, THE PB&J YOUR MOM PACKED FOR YOUR PICKY rear end DOESN'T COUNT. SANDWICHES ARE FOR EATING WHILE WEEPING ON YOUR KEYBOARD IN YOUR BORING rear end CUBICLE. HOTDOGS ARE MEANT TO BE EATEN IN HOLY COMMUNION WITH OTHER RED-BLOODED AMERICANS. AND YOU BETTER BE EATING THAT poo poo OUTSIDE AS GOD AND OSCAR MEYER INTENDED.
IN CONCLUSION, gently caress YOU. I REST MY CASE.
|# ? Mar 2, 2021 22:08|
Nailed the word count with a topic near and dear to my heart!
Picturing a person eating a hot dog like a corn on the cob has me in tears.
|# ? Mar 2, 2021 22:16|
I am somewhat aggrieved at the most spurious accusations you have made against my person. I do not feel that someone with an exemplary military service record (such as my own) is warranting of your slander. I sincerely hope that you do not intend to insult my honour. After all, I have proven myself to be an outstanding marksman in recent conflicts. Additionally, I have emerged as the victor in over three hundred private duels. It does not bode well for you, sir (or madam), that a great deal of my military expertise has been invested in the identification and tracking of missing persons. If you believe that I cannot identify an individual who has communicated to me anonymously in text (as you have), you are mistaken. When it comes to meeting with a stranger, and ending their life, I have at least seven hundred individually catalogued techniques at my disposal. I doubt that you were aware, at the time in which you authored your defamatory remarks, that you were addressing a man with these competencies. It is likely you would have paid greater respect, had you the grace of this knowledge. Alas, you did author those statements; I will therefore locate you, and I will defend my honour. And (at this particular moment) I do not feel that a person whose words are as disagreeable as your words deserves any mercy!
|# ? Mar 2, 2021 22:58|
There was a duck sitting in his bucket.
Me: Horse, why aren't you eating your dinner?
Horse: WHY IS IT LOOKING AT ME? What does it want?? What issssss iiiiiiit? Oh god oh go-- WAIT! What's that?! Oh nevermind it's just another horse walking across a paddock a kilometer away, I'm amazed I can even see that far given I can't tell the different between a puddle and a deadly portal to another dimension - oh look horse food, yum... ARGH! It flapped! In my dinner! Am I going to DIE?! Why is this happeniiiiiiing~? I want to... I want to eat the yumyums... I can smell the molasses oh god the molasses I'm going to die aren't I, I'm going to starv-- GAH! IT MOVED! I'm going to die anyway maybe if I just put my nose in--
Duck: Quack quack motherfucker.
And then he snapped his halter and hosed off up the farm and I had to go trudging all the way up the hill to get the silly bugger.
|# ? Mar 3, 2021 01:49|
Thunderdome Week 448: Idiotisms and Proverbs and a Living Hell
Once upon a time, a man named Senhor Pedro Carolino wrote a book: New Guide of the Conversation in Portuguese and English. It was "written with serious intent, and for the purpose of initiating Portuguese students into the mysteries of the English language." The only catch? He didn't speak English.
Instead he used French/English dictionaries and translated from Portuguese to French to English. What resulted was a hilarious mishmash of awkward phrases that make almost no sense at all, and is definitely not an effective way to learn English phrases. So that'll be fun.
But we're not done yet. Sure picking a silly phrase and writing a silly story is fun, but it's also not what I need right now. This week, I want to cause pain. I want your characters to loving bleeeeed. In addition to choosing an "idiotism and proverb" you will be writing a story that does not have a happy ending. Things are not wrapped up nicely, this is not an afterschool special. poo poo is hosed, man. Your characters are loving doomed. There is more suffering in life than death, so your character(s) also cannot die at the end. You are going to ruin these fuckers. Just because it isn't a happy ending doesn't mean you don't need to wrap things up, so please actually write an ending that feels like it stems from the events in your story. and writing a bad person getting their comeuppance counts as a happy ending, so i want to feel these characters pain, i want to feel bad for them, i want to suffer alongside them.
so to recap:
1. Pick a line from this list for loosely interpreted inspiration: https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/English_As_She_Is_Spoke/Idiotisms_and_Proverbs (duplicates are ok i don't really care)
2. Write a story without a happy ending
3. No character death
4. Only likable characters
5. Write a complete story
I also got poo poo to do, so short week this week, submissions close SUNDAY MORNING. not night. morning.
Signup deadline: Friday, Feb 4, midnight PST
Submission deadline: Sunday Feb 7, 8am PST
Word Limit: 1,800 words
No: poetry, fanfic, erotica, google docs, happy endings, character deaths, unlikable characters, giving us blue balls
01. Sperglord Firecock - to force to forge, becomes smith
02. Thranguy - A bad arrangement is better than a process
03. Baneling Butts - He is not so devil as he is black
04. Morning Bell - It is better be single as a bad company
05. Noah - To build castles in Espagnish
06. brotherly - The stone as roll not heap up not foam
07. Azza Bamboo - He has fond the knuckle of the business
08. crimea - It is better be single as a bad company
09. Sitting Here - So much go the jar to spring that at last it break there
10. Simply Simon - It is better be single as a bad company
11. Antivehicular - Friendship of a child is water into a basket
crabrock fucked around with this message at 07:21 on Mar 7, 2021
|# ? Mar 3, 2021 03:11|
i'll judge this too, gently caress it, hell rules with toxx (or you can just toxx without a rule, idc i'm not your mum)
|# ? Mar 3, 2021 03:26|
in, to force to forge, becomes smith
|# ? Mar 3, 2021 03:47|
A bad arrangement is better than a process.
|# ? Mar 3, 2021 05:30|
Crits for Week 447
brotherly - Hemp Bonds
First impression: ooh dear, you picked the worst topic for me to include in a story. All this talk of bonds and securities made me glaze over the majority of the story. Cult stuff and movies as currency is a fine detail. I don’t get why George ended like that.
Further impression: Ah, George ended like that because he revealed that his commune did deals with the Tisser Empire. That fact required a re-read. The problem I had with the jargon is that it seems like a good peek into the narrator’s character, but I don’t get anything beyond “really into numbers”. His sleaziness was better described.
flerp - the thin line between now and later
First impression: This is a sad tale of a gay person growing up. The premise of a god not knowing what it is a god of is existentially crunchy. I didn’t like that the god, being what it is, simply tells you the events of the future, the events not happening in the story itself.
Further impression: Re-reading this deepens the sadness in the story. I still disliked the fact that the end of the story is just more sight into the future, and add to that that the protagonist just accepted it all. I’d expect some struggle, but maybe that’s for the future, outside this story. I grew to like the second person narrative. I can’t help comparing your story to a friendly penguin’s and crabrock’s, and I liked your god the least. A heartless prediction machine doesn’t deserve worship.
a friendly penguin – Spy Walks into a Bar
First impression: Agents traveling using spirits to other creatures in order to satisfy a god, to gain information on…? A tragedy hurt more when it happened to a penguin.
Further impression: Alright, Talik’s not actually a penguin, he used to spirit-hop to a penguin. Got it. I was confused about Talik’s current body as the story goes, sometimes you use ‘man’ here when the soldiers are non-human. It’s unclear to me what the GW wanted to do with the plans, or what a tiger god is doing among the Lion Horde Gods. I did feel Talik’s regret in the end. Comparing your story with the other god stories (by flerp, crabrock), I like your god the most. Very active gods, deserve a watch.
Nae – A Tiger Can Change His Stripes
First impression: fantastic opening, I love the puns. As a mystery plot it’s not fair, but you can’t be in 1500 words. The reveal is welcome, but it’s too big for flash fiction. I’d like to read more.
Further impression: Looking back at it again, there is nothing fair about the mystery plot, and I don’t know why I expect that in 1500 words. The ending is too hopeful for my liking, but maybe it’s just how it is in CSI. I don’t have a strong image at all of what this place you set your story on look like, all I imagine are blank rooms and maybe a big blank room. The dialogue had a fast pace and I like reading it.
Sperglord Firecock – Bat Mission
First impression: Heavy action, with a gorilla moving swiftly between bats. I’d like to see a better opponent for the guerilla gorilla, as she just did her mission perfectly. Actually, the plan is too perfect.
Further impression: Loved the ‘gorilla in the room’ line. The explosion being bigger than expected is a welcome disaster to the perfect mission, but sadly that last interesting bit isn’t engaging enough for me.
QuoProQuid - Confessions of a Lion President: I Was a Teenage Content Creator
First impression: So you’ve taken on the challenge! Well done, hoping the gorillas would have some say, but well done. The jokes get a bit tiresome by the end, but it’s a consistent character work. Nice to see the politicians get down with the kids.
Further impression: I soured on this story the most through re-reads. As your own character said, the jokes are ancient, tired. If you had made your own jokes I’d appreciate it more. The juxtaposition between a non-serious president and a serious political affair should get my attention, but I just can’t summon an emotion for it.
Baneling Butts – The Killers
First impression: The grandmother has an eye patch, which is scary. Lovely scenes of the market, and an even lovelier, nay, nostalgic almost, scenes of haggling. A mouse with a fork does sound like a tough enemy.
Further impression: Killer whales have patches, I was wrong to imagine an old whale with a pirate-esque eye patch. Oh, I really do love the market scenes. I want to see more of the market! I feel like I should be able to smell something, especially for a market set on the ocean. I suppose killer whales don’t have a good sense of smell. I keep substituting Kun for Uncle, because the Uncle didn’t really show in this story.
Azza Bamboo – Vacancy - Assistant Production Operative
First impression: There’s comfort in a pile of bones. I had long suspected Buzzards is a creature of taste. Lots of nice dialogue. OH MY GOD RAT WHEEL
Further impression: Rat wheel is an image so vivid I genuinely put you as a winner as soon as I finished. Upon re-reading, it is actually the only part of your story I liked. I remembered every part of the story somehow leading to the wheel reveal, but that’s not true. The pre-wheel scenes are dry by comparison. Post-wheel, nothing matters, it’s not the rat wheel. Long live rat wheel.
Thranguy – Phase Changes
First impression: The image of wizards shouting their introduction is fresh. It feels like I’m reading Rhyme recapping his life story into someone else instead of actually feeling the story. Was the Mote disappearing in the perfect moment for a reason?
Further impression: There was a level of closeness, of intensity, in the opening third of the story that did draw me in. I felt the cold, the vividness of the mark reveal, the warmth of Arbet. That the story seemed to be summaries of Rhyme’s life after that is disappointing. Yes, there was seduction of dark magic, murder of monsters, new love, but it all felt clinical, the bad kind of cold.
crabrock – Forever Young
First impression: Finally someone kicked god in the chest. Not sure why you asked not to read this, it’s a story. Endless mourning in an endless plane, a fitting scene for the sadness. Why does she have to live there forever?
Further impression: Only her grief is forever. To be honest with you at first I resisted the pull of this piece. I can tell it’s heading down a dark place and I felt manipulated to cry, to feel that sting in my heart, and I retreated from it. As such, I didn’t truly feel the true emotional weight of this story until the re-read. On a technical level it is well-written and I love the depiction of the bay. On a theological level it is satisfying to interact with the heartless oracle, but on some level this God is too caged, imprisoned by His own divinity.
steeltoedneakers – New Dialect
First impression: I can’t quite grasp a ‘mid-punch’. I’ve never heard of ‘jandal’ before. The idea of a hivemind of insects sympathizing with human lust gives me chills, man. I don’t quite understand why she’s there at all. Where is she? What are the devils?
Further impression: Oh, Rayna didn’t know what the devils are either. She’s there so travellers can pass without meeting the devils. Re-reading this makes it clearer the bond between the bug and her, and I do enjoy it. I especially enjoy how the swarm and the sentry at the end. A comfortable ending.
Noah – Oceans with No End
First impression: I too wonder if seagulls like brains. I don’t understand much. I thought the later two murders were retaliation to the first, but it was a military raid? The philosurfer (nice) king didn’t do much.
Further impression: Compared to the straight forward cop drama of Nae’s story, this story is much more from the perspective of the witness, but it’s a witness that decided to do nothing, just getting scared and confused. The story feels like nothing, and I am as confused as I was when I was first reading. And because Ken spend the entire story in a state of fear and anxiety, there’s not much surfing either.
Antivehicular – A Day for Black Salt
First impression: Love the potion making scene. Ooh, I got the idea now, the drug is to create fake near-death prophecies, which is the currency of this religion. An interesting idea.
Further impression: “Wasting his death” is a chilling opening, and there is that sense of horror watching Cinder-in-Bone’s cultivated death go awry. I love the poetry in potion and the final goodbye. One-Month’s consideration of his future death is a suitable ending.
The rest are over the deadline by my count, so no further impressions.
sebmojo – You don’t have to be, but it helps
First impression: Straight up title call, thumbs up. Not much happened here, just some character work. Impressive character work, though. the pool metaphor do sink in, and the narrator’s dreams of running a store opens up another window to his personality, but the fact that he’s just saying this is a bummer.
Idle Amalgam – The End of the Dream
First impression: The paragraphs are too big! The words are too long! Scary. Ah, a revenge story against a chimp, the most vengeable of all the primates. The ending is dramatic, but too unrealistic, windows shouldn’t break that easily.
toanoradian fucked around with this message at 06:07 on Mar 3, 2021
|# ? Mar 3, 2021 05:53|
Oh, this week's prompt is well out of my comfort zone! In, "He is not so devil as he is black."
|# ? Mar 3, 2021 06:10|
It is better be single as a bad company.
|# ? Mar 3, 2021 06:28|
To build castles in Espagnish.
|# ? Mar 3, 2021 07:49|
In with The stone as roll not heap up not foam.
|# ? Mar 3, 2021 11:23|
In: He has fond the knuckle of the business.
|# ? Mar 3, 2021 17:52|
It is better be single as a bad company.
IS IT BITCH???
|# ? Mar 3, 2021 19:22|
|# ? Jun 29, 2022 01:38|
in, So much go the jar to spring that at last it break there.
|# ? Mar 3, 2021 21:22|