In but please have mercy I don't do a lot of this, Chili is making me do it.
|# ? Apr 9, 2021 01:22|
|# ? Jun 27, 2022 09:32|
|# ? Apr 9, 2021 10:39|
|# ? Apr 10, 2021 06:13|
|# ? Apr 10, 2021 06:43|
I was going to make a meta-joke thanking you for all of your submissions for the week, but I’m pretty sure it would just lead to people freaking out, so... idk pretend I made a Primer reference or something.
Also entires are closed, unless it’s Yoruichi, who gets a free in for the week for having defeated me in our last brawl.
|# ? Apr 10, 2021 07:15|
A few issues with entering Week 453 stories into the archive
Great week everybody, some really interesting stories. Unfortunately, there were a few issues I ran into when attempting to enter this week into the archive.
There was a fantastic after-Easter markdown on quantum fluctuation chips so I decided to snag one and upgrade the Archive’s server. This thing is really cool, and I’m not a fan of the RGB LEDs on everything but the way this processor shimmers is unique and looks like I’m staring into the universe itself. Lisa dared me to touch it but I decided not to because she’s usually trolling me, like it’d melt my face off or something and she’d just be laughing the whole time. But still, there’s part of me that wants to. Even though I know it’d be bad.
Unfortunately I forgot that TdBot is also running on the Archive server and some jerk who shall remain nameless (Sitting Here) did “!randsent erratum” which apparently is also the command line trigger to update the server’s temporal error logs, and it has created a whole mess (I’ve disabled it now, so don’t bother trying to repeat it).
toanoradian, could you please delete the word “erratum” from your story? You’re the only one to use the word so far and I think that if you delete it before you submit then it may avoid these problems altogether. Unfortunately, deleting this word appears to have had a negative effect on your displayed word count, but that’s a small price to pay for the rest of the Archive running smoothly.
Um, Noah, your story is upside down. I have no idea why, I’ll try to get it fixed but until then if the judges could just read it in the thread and not on the archive, that would be great. If your story is meant to be read upside down and you were going to ask me to do this later then uh, you’re welcome?
Whomever used the server’s temporary vulnerability to create an account as “more like Fartchive” please stop adding yourself as a judge to random weeks. Also you can’t have won 20 times last week so that doesn’t even make sense, you didn’t even enter. Please stop loving stuff up, I don’t even know what a chronon SQL is and I’ve been up for three days straight trying to get everything fixed and I’m too loving exhausted for this petty bullshit. I just want to curl up in my bed, pull the blankets up to my chin, and maybe touch the chip.
Idle Amalgam, the UI on your story seems to be all hosed up, but you can still read the story ok, so it’s not super high on my list of things to fix. Just push “back” to get out of that mess. Normally I’d make a joke about how I wish it was the other way around and your text was scrambled so I couldn’t read it, but that doesn’t seem so funny now given your DM for the week. Hope I didn’t influence that in any way, sorry :/
Tyrannosaurus… what IS that thing?
The text color on Brotherly’s page is pretty, but unintentional. I think this has something to do with when I was setting up the new chip it asked me to specify a color in the BIOS. I’ve never seen that option before, so I just put “?” and it accepted it so I forgot about it and moved on. Looking back, maybe that wasn’t the best choice, but YODO (you only dome once), gently caress it.
Actually, thinking back, I did that for a few things I didn’t recognize. Let me know if anybody runs into problems with the Archive’s matrix salinity or quark acceleration. So far it hasn’t seemed to affect anything but there could be something I’ve missed. If actual tears start coming out of anybody’s monitor when Nethilia is rude to TdBot let me know ASAP because that is NOT good.
For some reason angel opportunity’s story is set to some kind of wiki mode and anybody can edit it. DO NOT EDIT THIS STORY. Some of the edits are coming through out of order and it’s making my job in tracking down this bug very difficult because I’m not sure in which order I should be reading this error log’s entries and I keep rebreaking things I’d already fixed.
There was a few account requests for users I did not recognize and I deleted, which I’m now realizing may be people that haven’t signed up yet, but will soon, so please PM me if your name is RockPaperPsoriasis, Handyman2097, or Ẋ̴͇̜͕̭̪̌́ͅͅO̲͓͙͇͍͉̟̝ͦ̅ͅR̸̢̳̥̟ͮͧ̀̍͡M̸̨̜̭̯̥͍͇͆ͮ́͡ͅE͙̟̣͇̠ͮͫ͒͟O̸̶̲̩̻̝̦̤̯̖͐̊̀̚N̮̺͈͕̳͔̥̑̓̈͋ͫ and I will get your account set up whenever you’re ready to enter. Actually Xormeon, whenever I hover over your name the server makes a weird whining noise, almost like human speech. I swear I can hear it saying ‘touch me. touch me’ over and over. Maybe consider changing your username before entering.
Hats off to the new guy, dy. for throwing his hat in the ring. The server is very excited for the new blood, and has commemorated this by dumping the new baby TDer icon all over your page. Welcome, I guess.
Thranguy, your story seems to be the only one that’s entered correctly, so good job with that I guess. If you could walk me through what exactly you did maybe that would help me understand why everybody else's stories are all screwy.
Yoruichi, I’m not 100% sure what happened but when I was entering your story I got a weird popup error about retroactive cancelation. Digging a bit deeper it looks like something you wrote unposted your signup post. It looks like it’s also affecting your story, I dunno what the judges wanna do about this? Maybe you could call them on the phone and read your story out loud to them or something? There currently seems to be no way to preserve your story in text format. Let me know if you find a suitable workaround.
I think I need to wipe the server and restore from an old backup, which would be fine, usually, but well, I kinda needed extra space to update all the server firmware so I deleted the backups. I’m working as fast as I can to get everything back up and running, but I keep thinking that the only way I can truly get to the bottom of this is to open up the server and touch the chip. It would be good, I think, to touch it. It looks like it’ll feel how cookies taste.
Barnaby Profane, what you wrote seemed to upset the server, and it is constantly trying to redact your story. Luckily, refreshing the page seems to set it back, so just refresh constantly until I get it under control.
Gah, okay. A new bug appeared since I’ve been typing up this post. These were getting entered into the Archive in the opposite order that they were submitted due to certain technical limitations of the new processor, so I didn’t notice this one until just now, since Azza Bamboo posted so loving early it took a while to actually bug out. Jesus christ I have no idea what the hell is even going on here. Everything’s just jumping around. Troubleshooting it I think is has something to do with the processor’s cartesian randomizer, and the words have become unstuck in space time. Probably if i touch the chip it’ll help?
curlingiron, can you reupload the image for this week? It seems to have gotten all glitchy on the archive. I’m trying to change the week of the name back but every time I do I get this low deep humming coming from the server like if a piano’s keyboard kept going more to the left for another 10 feet or so and somebody is playing a song on notes that you can’t really hear, only feel. And I can feel it on every nerve tip in my body, and it’s chanting commands in a synesthesic melody.
I’m not explaining it well. I guess it’s not really important if you don’t know wtf I’m talking about. I wouldn’t expect you to understand it anyway. It’s not like the chip chose you. I can’t put the archive back to how it was. I don’t want to put it back. It’s better this way, more in tune with the universe. I look into the shimmer and I can see each story in it, every typo, every boring character has been fixed, transformed into something special. And it wants me to be a part of it, to join it on its journey. I was wrong about there being some issues with the archive. The issue is within ourselves. But there’s a path to freedom, a way beyond.
all i have to do is touch it
i want to touch it
im going to touch it
|# ? Apr 10, 2021 07:37|
Maynard’s Magical Remembering Potion
Terry rocked the plasmal warp conduit until the big metal tube began to scrape and squeal against the wall. The sound was lost in the din of the machinery, the factory floor covered in silver and golden conveyor belts, dispensing stations, massive potion vats, chanting balconies for the liches to harness their unholy energies, and all manner of complex metal twisted into useful shapes.
The conduit groaned under Terry’s weight. He was a big guy, burly around the middle, hairy shoulders, unkempt beard, and the more he pushed, the more the conduit shifted.
The liches raised their hands as they gathered undead energy, peeled it off from the netherworld, and dipped it down into the brewing potions. Terry shouted with strain, the muscles in his neck and back bulging, as the conduit broke free from the wall and he fell backwards.
Light spewed out and the emergency klaxons screamed. Terry hit the ground hard and felt his elbow burst into pain. He rolled onto his side as the liches completed their ritual, but it was too late—the excess power had nowhere to go.
Lightning arced from the piping across the factory floor as workers scattered, and the machines burst and broke in sparks and flame. Terry crawled toward the chaos while the massive vats of Hoover’s Love Potions Number 3 turned rancid the Albus Hair Loss Stemmer Potion leaked from its containment field, and the liches chanted over the meltdown as another explosion rocked the room, and Terry flung himself into the guts of the machines.
“I think we both know why you’re here.” Mabeline’s short yellow-brown hair was a perfect coif around her skull. Terry couldn’t remember the first time they met. “This is never easy, Terry.”
Mabeline’s office was cramped, packed with spellbooks and test tubes and binders, so many binders. Sometimes Terry thought half of being in business was making binders with fancy covers and leaving them around for other people to admire. Mabeline leaned toward him and her face softened.
“I know things have been hard lately,” she said. “But really, an entire batch of Homer Sticky Serum?”
“I know,” Terry said, lowing his gaze to the perfectly bland carpet.
“Before that, it was late shipments. Before that, broken packaging. You know how delicate this whole operation is. One mistake during the spellcasting and—“ She made a dramatic gesture with both hands.
“I haven’t been sleeping well,” he said, and felt like a child in front of the principal, though he was at least ten years older than Mabeline. He’d worked for the Gaston Potion Company for most of his adult life, day in and day out, worked to ensure the complex machinery remained in working order, that the liches got their special breakfasts of freshly slaughtered pig meat, and soothed battered egos when arguments flared. He was part foreman, part councilor, and part repairman.
And lately, he’d failed at all three. This meeting with Mabeline was a long time coming, and well deserved. He tried to recall his first day of work for the Company, and failed. Everything beyond the week before was a blur of scattered motions.
Mabeline straightened. “Management spoke. We need to let you go.”
Terry’s mouth fell open. Words formed, were lost, reformed, failed. Mabeline’s face twisted into something like pity.
“There will be severance,” she said softly. “You’ve been a loyal employee. Management will take care of you.”
“You’re firing me?” he asked.
“I’m sorry,” she said, and gestured back over his shoulder. “Please, Jacques here will walk you out.”
Terry turned to see the security guy Jacques standing by the door. Half troll and all muscle. Jacques grunted at Terry to get up and follow.
Mabeline turned back to her computer like she hadn’t ruined Terry’s life.
“How will I take care of mother now?” he asked, lightheaded.
Mabeline looked up. “I don’t know. Good luck.”
Jacques tugged on Terry’s arm, and pulled him out into the hall, where it felt like his life collapsed around him.
Mother’s hair was like a puff of cloud edged in golden sunlight. She smiled at Terry over the breakfast table. “You make the best eggs,” she said as he placed the plate down in front of her. “How long have you been making me breakfast, Terry?”
He stared at her, mouth hanging open. He couldn’t remember anymore. The breakfasts melted together. “Years,” he managed.
“Well, I love it.” She began to eat, her eyes clear and happy. She was skinny, and had barely touched his eggs in a long time, but now she tucked in like a ravenous bear. Terry watched until she noticed him staring. “What’s with that look?” she asked.
“You know who I am?” he asked gently.
She gave him an odd frown. “You’re my son. Now sit down and quit watching me.”
He turned to the sink and looked at his hands. His mother hadn’t recognized him in almost three years. Deep in the Alzheimer spiral, he’d thought the easy days were behind them, and was resigned to caring for a woman that couldn’t remember his name. Sometimes, flashes of her appeared, like when she played the piano, or when a favorite old movie came on TV. Mostly, she remained buried in there, lost to him.
Terry sat across from his mother and she asked about his day, about work, about the news. They talked like this was a normal morning routine, and by the time Lorna the day nurse appeared to take over mother’s care, Terry didn’t want to leave.
“She’s lucid,” he whispered to her.
“Really?” She seemed surprised. “That’s good, sweetie. You should stay and enjoy it while it lasts.”
Terry checked his watch. “I really can’t,” he said. “Work’s been rough and I’m already late.”
Lorna nodded and put a hand on his arm. “Go ahead. I’ll keep her company. Maybe make a little video for you.” She winked and smiled.
“Thank you,” he said, grateful. “I’d appreciate that.”
He kissed his mother goodbye.
“Have a nice day at work, kiddo,” she said.
Terry cried in the car. She hadn’t called him kiddo in years.
Jacques shoved Terry forward. “Get your stuff,” he said, standing with his arms crossed as Terry packed his personal items. He had a desk in a tiny closet off the break room.
Terry’s phone buzzed as he put his World’s Best Son mug into a cardboard box. It was Lorna. She rarely called during the day. He looked back at Jacques. “Have to take this,” he said.
Jacques glared at him, but Terry answered the call. “Hello?” he said. “Lorna?”
“Terry.” Lorna sounded tired and breathless. “I’m at the hospital. I called as soon as I could.”
He felt a jab of something icy in his chest. “Hospital?” he asked. “Is mother okay?”
“Sweetie, I don’t know how to say this but you have to come down here.”
“What’s going on?”
Lorna took a deep breath. “Sometimes, when Alzheimer’s patients are at the end, they have one last bit of lucidity. I think your mother came out to say goodbye this morning. Please come to the hospital.”
Terry dropped the phone and it clattered to the floor. He stared at his feet, at his fingers, then up at the ceiling and the buzzing fluorescent light.
He barely remembered his childhood. Fuzzy moments littered his brain. Sunlight on his pale skin beside a lake, he didn’t know where. His mother with a towel wrapped around her head. Music as his mother drove him to high school. It was all jagged and fragmented, and each time he tried to recall his life, it came back twisted like light through water, or not at all.
Every day he woke and recited names and places, just to be sure.
“You good?” Jacques asked. “Terry?”
He didn’t know if he could keep her memory alive. There was no other family. After him, everything would be forgotten. He never married, didn’t have kids, and at forty it was unlikely it’d ever happen. He gave his life to taking care of his mother, and working in the potions factory, and now there was nothing else.
Nobody to remember.
Jacques stepped closer and put a hand on his arm. “Terry, man—“
Terry lowered his shoulder and rammed himself as hard as he could into Jacques. The big man rocked back and he slipped on the dropped phone. His head hit the metal doorframe with an audible thump, and Jacques slumped down to the ground.
Nobody would remember this, and nobody would care. His mother was gone. Terry stepped over Jacques and walked to the factory floor. He looked out over the machines, at the liches on their platform, and spotted the plasmal warp conduit humming with excess powers.
He walked toward it, each step spelling resignation.
|# ? Apr 11, 2021 10:41|
Aesop on Wine(1397 words)
Oh, hi there, Phaedrus! What, these? These were all wine! No mead, all wine. Enough to drown a donkey, the bartender said! He’s so funny. Anyway, shan’t keep you waiting any longer. I’ve prepared eight stories. No, nine! Let’s make it ten. The first one’s about a rabbit.
The moose’s friend, the dog, loved to sit on the moose. The moose hated it, as the dog’s claws are sharp.
The moose knows the dog can’t swim, so he dove into the sea. The dog didn’t let go, to the moose’s shock. In fact, the dog held on more, and the moose started to bleed.
A shark felt the blood and ate the moose.
Moral: Don’t be passive aggressive, tell the beast on your back to get off.
Hmm? There was no rabbit there? Oh. Oh, I got some things mixed up. Don’t worry, here’s a rabbit one.
A tiger hunted two rabbits. However, he knew at least one of the rabbit ate poisonous herbs, so eating it would be bad. One rabbit said he ate poison and the other didn’t. A side effect of the poisonous herbs was that it will make the eater always lie.
Using all his brain power, the tiger decided to eat both and had a stomach ache for the next few days.
Moral: Don’t play games with a predator.
Two rabbits, one rabbit, what’s the difference! Anyway, you got it all, right? Repeat them back to me. You got it! Let’s drink some wine to celebrate. Here’s another!
Dog floated on a log
Snow colored the riverside
A splash; the dog sank
Moral: Sometimes I’m into poetry.
That’s not a moral, I agree. Sorry, sometimes I’m into poetr-huh? I’m repeating myself? You’re right! Here’s something free of repetition. Meanwhile I’ll repeat drinking wine.
A desert scorpion bathed under the sun. A frog hopped on its back. There was a hissing sound when the frog’s moist skin touched the scorpion’s hot carapace.
The frog complained, “The sands are too hot, but your skin is colder! Help me get across the desert!”
However, the frog jumped on the scorpion’s sting, thrusting it down the scorpion itself. The scorpion died. The frog then died from heat.
Moral: Wouldn’t that be hosed up?
...I really hated that. If I’m the King of Fables, I would forbid any scorpions meeting any frogs. drat all these scorpions! I wish Zeus would zap them all! Let’s drink to the death of the scorpi-
Once there was a rabbit that wouldn’t cry. He wouldn’t laugh either. Neither would he rage, stress or feel lonely. In fact, he wouldn't.
He did feel hunger. The rabbit found a whole lot of poisonous bushes and started eating, for curiosity’s sake. The ensuing ache was unique and he enjoyed it to the full. Eventually the poison became his only friend, a reliable source of gut pain. From his view, the stomach is next to the soul.
Moral: Nothing is sometimes better than something.
Huh, sorrrrrry, I just told a fable in the middle of a sentence. The greatest Fabulist in all of Delphi, that’s me! I bet you’re sick of all these animals. I too tire of these animals! Here’s one that’ll satisfy you.
A horse was wearing armor. The heavy armour on his croup, withers and face felt heavy on his body, but he could handle this much pressure. He walked through the snowy forests, looking for some more weight.
He came across a man, a drunken man who raised one of his legs, and both of his hands high up in the air. The man kicked the horse on the left flank with that raised leg. The kick was strong enough to topple the horse.
The horse cried on the snow-covered forest floor. If only he was heavier. And have claws or something.
What was that? The moral? Ehh, put it in the edit. Heavily armoured beasts are eeeeasy to topple. Stories around 1397 words long always put their morals in the edit. Don’t worry about it. Here’s a relaxing story. Let me sip some wine first.
A crane envied the ducks for their short legs. She drowned in envy and wanted nothing more than for her long thin sticks to be short stubs. Other cranes did not share her envy and looked down on her, as if she already had short legs.
One day she came across a wise tiger. Hearing her pleas, the tiger used his mighty claws to cut the crane’s leg in two. As she lay there bleeding, the crane for a very short time realised that she should be happy with what she had. Her legs cannot be shortened without misery.
Moral: There’s this wise guy from the far east who tells me this crazy story about a crane.
This guy was from a big country on the East.
I’m not ‘stealing’! Don’t call it ‘stealing’! I’m merely being ‘inspired’. Nobody owned thoughts. I’m not stealing! He drank wine like this, it was crazy.
One was an armoured horse on the snowed-on forest. The other was a wet dog on the edge of the forest, all alone in this world with no friends. The two met. The horse, sensing that the dog was weak, let the smaller animal climb on.
When the dog climbed on the horse felt that at last his body felt right. There was now enough weight on him and he began running in earnest. The dog held on with all his power in his claws, and the armor let him hold on like that without hurting the horse.
Thus the horse and the dog ran together and in unison said, “There is always a horse to a dog.”
Ahh, that was a beautiful ending. Thanks for coming, Phaedrus. What? That was only the eighth? Ah, of course, I forgot to tell the moose story. What, I did? Bullshit. I haven’t talked about the moose. Here’s a moose.
The moose ran away from the hammering Hammer Man and his Hammer. Hammer Man hammered the moose’s antlers, and some snapped under Hammer.
Moral: Beware that one did not drown in one’s activities.
Hammer Man continued hammering, he began to see in hammers. One day a moose rampaged through Hammer Man’s smithy. After losing his armored horse, Hammer Man, a man with a hammer, grew to love hammering things. Hammer’s Hammer hammered hammers, for strength. Soon his world was just Hammer Man, Hammer, and hammer-ables.
Where does the Hammer Man end, and the Hammer begin?
Phaedrus, why are you taking my wine away? I’m not too drunk. My stories made sense. Shut up, they do! The order’s all messed up? When you jot this all down, it’ll all make sense! If first man, then horse! Horse hammer man moose dog! It’s all simple! What, was it the man that made no sense? Geez, listen better, Phaedrus! Let me repeat it for you.
A man released a crane that’s tangled in a wire. He expected a fabulous return, but the crane never returned. The man began to think a lot about the crane, its shape and its grace. By himself he would stand on one leg, raising the other knee. He spread his arms straight up, his hands mimicking the shape of a bird’s head. In this stance he would feel powerful.
Days later he saw a mugging. In a flash of courage, he took on the crane position, yelled “Crane Mode” and charged at the mugger. He was beaten to bits, but the mugging was stopped.
Moral: You take from fables what you want.
Why are you removing your wig, Phaedrus? What, I came up with morals like “I like poetry” and you’re fine, but the moment I recommend people take whatever they want from my fables, you’re gone?
No, you’re not Phaedrus anymore? This whole play made no sense? Not only that Phaedrus was like five centuries younger than Aesop, but also that people drunk from wine won’t just reorder their stories? Are you saying that this was all just an excuse to post short stories with many different themes, some which work and some doesn’t, but in the end the only thing that mattered was that the discipline, the work?
Well, Phaedrus, you know what?
edit: That's THUNDERDOME, BABY!!!
Alright, thanks for the last few weeks, Thunderdome. It's been fun. See ya in a month.
toanoradian fucked around with this message at 08:33 on Apr 12, 2021
|# ? Apr 11, 2021 10:44|
Misty white eyes peer into a shard of broken glass. Oh, the century it has seen. Day and night flicker faster than the eyes can see. Years drift by. A window pane sits in a factory near a forest. The swell of men ceases to pour in and out of its vast doors. The brickwork darkens. Cracks creep into wooden frames. The glass of many windows pop one by one, lying shattered on the floor. A forest advances toward the building. Tiles fall like dandruff from the ceiling. Blackberry bushes tangle around tumbledown brick walls. Dandelions burst through asphalt in the yard.
“Here!” He says.
Day and night slow again, returning to a human pace on this night.
A white van screeches to a halt in the old yard. A young man in jeans, and a middle aged woman in a green felt dress, disembark from either side. Moonlight twinkles in the scattered glass. They throw the back doors open. A greying, bearded man is dragged between them. He seethes, and tussles with his straitjacket.
The old man slams onto a mattress on the concrete floor. Geometric patterns drawn in chalk arc and intersect on the ground, covering every inch In this cavernous workshop. A lit candle marks each intersection.
Siobhan plucks a shard of glass from a crumbling window frame. She presents it to Liam.
“We have to draw their attention,” she says, “kiss it!”
Liam says, “what?” and Siobhan huffs through her nose, regarding him through slitted eyes.
Liam wipes the shard on his jeans. He pecks the glass with an audible smak.
The countryside. Spring sunlight shines through a canvas of oaks. Leaves rustle in the breeze, shadows mottle and shift around a twinkling duck pond. Two young boys in jeans (and T shirts with the names of their favourite bands) perch alongside one another. Their branch reaches far over the grasses below. Liam closes his eyes. His lips touch Craig’s, but the pond is shimmering beneath his eyelids; a sparkle like a shard of glass in his hand.
A figure stands on the other side of the glass: a gentleman in an exquisite tail coat, old fashioned boots, and white stockings reaching to his knees. His face is shaded in the factory candlelight, but his eyes shine like the eyes of a cat. Liam opens his eyes. The gentleman has pointed ears. His skin is pale as the moon. His misty eyes are slanted. The image in the glass is merely his reflection: the elf stands behind him.
“Oh, what a lovely kiss.” Says the elf, who peels the marks of Liam’s lips from the glass, as though it were a sticker. He slicks back his dewy hair, forming brown lines, like the fins underneath the head of a mushroom.
“Pray tell,” says the elf, “what would you want in exchange for this wonderful memory?”
“Oh, most noble guest,” she says, “I beseech you, in your kindness —”
"I want my dad to be sane again," says Liam.
The elf gasps, flutters his eyelids. He stands, mouth agape.
Siobhan swings her arm, clipping the very tips of Liam’s ear.
“Manners!” she barks.
"I want my dad to be sane again, sir."
The elf bows. "Of course, young man: as you wish."
Myriad machines roar and clatter in the factory. Screaming saws slice trees into planks. The glass returns to a whole on its pane. The wedding band on Siobhan’s finger unravels by a single golden strand like a knitted sweater. The final stretch snags on Siobhan’s finger, and the elf tugs the strand with all of his might.
The factory clocks read 5AM. A swell of men march to the sign-in clocks, showing their cards. The old man, in his blue overalls, signs out.
“It’ll be sad to see you go, Seamus,” says a dirty man beside him.
“See you down the pub?” Seamus asks.
And the crowd go on, patting him on the back, talking about drinks, retirements, and asking each other to stay in touch.
The elf’s misty white eyes look into the patterns on a wooden plank. Oh, the centuries it has seen. Day and night flicker faster than the eye can see. Years drift by. A sapling stretches toward the sky from a grassy floor. Branches divide from the branches, and branches from those branches. The trunk swells ever thicker. Leaves unfold; they brown; they fall; others unfold soon after.
“Here!” he says.
Day and night slow, returning to a human pace on this night.
A young woman in a green felt dress chains herself to the mighty oak. She traces the creases of the bark with her fingers. She kisses the tree with an audible smak.
University. Glass fronted buildings conceal labyrinthine corridors and classrooms. Two sweethearts enter a classroom hand in hand. Daniel perches on the desk. Siobhan’s lips touch his. Under Siobhan’s eyes, the pattern of woodgrain forms a face.
“Oh, what a lovely kiss,” says the elf.
He peels the lipstick off the bark as though it were a sticker, and places it into a satchel with hundreds of others.
“Pray tell,” says the elf, “what would you want in exchange for this wonderful memory?”
“Oh, most noble guest,” Siobhan says, “I beseech you, in your kindness, to spare this forest from destruction.”
“Very well,” says the elf, “as you wish.”
A golden strand wraps around Siobhan’s finger. Once the ring is complete, she disappears. The forest is thick and dense. In the distance lies a ruined factory.
The factory yard twinkles in the moonlight, and he walks to it, to find the source of the sparkling light: shards of broken glass.
|# ? Apr 11, 2021 15:29|
I’m in an Uber on the way to the airport. My reflection is a thin ghost in the window, suspended in the slow dance of twinkling homes draped over the hills.
It’s crazy how big this city is: it just keeps going and going, more and more houses, thousands upon thousands. All these other people. It’s so much bigger than the city that exists in my head, so much bigger than the boundaries of my experience. There’s so much I never saw. But maybe I’ll come back one day.
I’m traveling light. I’ve got a plane ticket my parents bought for me, and a single suitcase. I read somewhere that when you move, you have to move, you have to get rid of everything. So it’s all gone, all the flesh of the life that I made here, scattered like a sky burial, borne away by Craigslist-summoned flocks of carrion birds.
I almost could’ve gotten away with a carry-on, except for the toiletries. I don’t know how long I’ll be home for, but I’m not ready to go back to Walgreens conditioner just yet.
The airport is coming closer, the complex concrete vascular system overwhelming, like something out of a sci-fi movie. The driver’s asking me which terminal.
“United,” I tell him.
We died slow.
Evening after evening, sitting in our little living room, cradling takeout from the Thai place that we’d had a thousand times. Not even that good, but familiar, something we could agree on. We’d be sitting at opposite ends of the couch, underneath separate blankets, lost in our private glowing rectangles. I remember looking at the black television, seeing our dim reflections in the glass, phones lighting our faces from below like campers telling ghost stories with flashlights.
The love was long gone. There was no big blow-up, just a slow dulling over time. Like when people talk about a frog in a pot of water where the temperature’s increasing so slowly that the frog doesn’t realize it’s being cooked, but backwards. I guess it should work with a pot of water that gets colder too; it’s maybe less relatable from a metaphor standpoint, but I don’t really feel like I have a touchpoint for boiling frogs either. It all sounds kind of weird in a literal sense.
It was hard to even recognize Kate when she no longer loved me, like my whole idea of Kate was tangled up in the love that I once felt coming from her. I suppose she probably felt the same way about me. We were different in a lot of ways, but when we loved each other, it felt like we loved each other the way we wanted to be loved in turn, if that makes sense. I felt like the character of the love that came from Kate was the same as the love that poured out of me naturally.
And now that it was gone, I felt like maybe that was all I’d ever loved, the reflection of myself that I saw in her. Stupid, narcissist.
The first fight we had was in a Goodwill. Not like a yelling fight or anything. Some couples probably wouldn’t even call it a fight. Kate liked to go to thrift stores, pick through their furniture. I tried to get into it too, but Kate never liked the stuff I picked out for the house and I didn’t care enough to make a deal out of it, and so I’d spend the time making up little games instead. They were just little things, meant to be fun.
Kate was wobbling an old credenza with seventies style mirrored doors back and forth on uneven legs. I had been exploring the place and filling my shopping basket with every object that was robin’s egg blue that I could find -- a t-shirt, a single high heel, a book on etiquette for new wives. It was supposed to be funny. I thought it was funny.
“Look, all one color,” I said. It was a whole basket, packed to the brim, everything robin’s egg blue, none of it related.
Kate just looked at me blankly, immune to the basket’s charms. “You’re going to have to put all that stuff back.”
“Put them back? My priceless heirlooms? I couldn’t bear to part with a single one!”
Kate threw up her hands. “I can’t deal with you when you’re like this.”
That was the first time she’d said that to me. It would become a more persistent refrain. “Whoa, okay, fine, I’ll put them all back.”
“You could be helping me. I’m trying to find things to make our home nicer. I can’t carry all of that burden and give you the attention you want too. I just can’t.”
“I’m sorry.” I felt embarrassed about my stupid basket.
“Just put them back.” Kate turned back to the credenza, ran her finger over a chip in the mirror.
We bought the credenza. Kate still has it.
Before that, even before we moved in together, we used to go dancing at nightclubs, just the two of us. We’d go places where we didn’t know anyone, just to be in and among crowds. We looked good together. I don’t know how to say this without it sounding like a brag, but we were a hot couple. People would look at us when we were out on the dance floor. We liked the attention we got.
Maybe that’s shallow. It didn’t feel that way. It felt kind of magical, like we were inventing this thing that was us, growing this life under black light and mirror ball. When I try to remember the times when things were truly just good between us, that’s what I see: I see Kate, illuminated in flashes like frames of an undercranked film, moving in a sea of strangers, her eyes locked with mine.
The first time I stayed over at Kate’s place, we spent the afternoon outside. We walked in the botanical garden, and she talked about her grandma who’d just died. Back at her house -- she had roommates then -- we sat out on the front steps and drank Duvel out of mason jars on a slow golden summer evening.
She had dozens of candles in her bedroom. She was always careful about her spaces, the things she allowed in. We sat on the edge of her bed for a long time, in silence, facing a floor length mirror. She sat behind me, resting her chin on my shoulder, her arms draped across my collarbone, jawbones nuzzled up against each other. She looked at me in the mirror, seeing how we looked together, seeing how I fit.
She smiled at my reflection, and it felt like skinny dipping at midnight in a summer lake.
Before Kate, I never put stock in love at first sight.
I was late for our first in-person date and flustered. When I got to the café, which had these big plate glass windows out to the sidewalk, I reflexively checked myself out in the window, and too late I realized she was right there on the other side of the window. We made our first real life eye contact that way, through my own reflection of me awkwardly checking myself out, and she smiled a knowing smile at me, that kind of smile that says I see you.
I give my Uber driver the five stars he requests and extend the handle on my rolling suitcase. The revolving glass door to the terminal spins slowly, showing me my own reflection in the brief sweep of a lighthouse beam before swallowing me whole.
|# ? Apr 11, 2021 21:05|
Stealing a Moment
The crux two: St. James Hospital, intensive care wing. A place of concentrated, palpable discomfort. An argument on the other side of a privacy curtain between a stranger's family and doctors as she lies, quaking and he stands, unable to think of anything to say. Wall clocks from when this place was first built tick out seconds one by one, out of sync. He can't stay much longer. He won't be coming back again. He starts to say something, but the words die in his lungs before can even say Annie's name. He leaves.
The confluence: Jonah, a scientist with a breathtaking new theory of time, denied funding by the university, denied clearance on the vortex kayaks. Lisa, an uncommonly talented thief, rescued from jail before her fingerprints could be traced to a truer name. Maynard,six foot five of intimidation and muscle. A team of strangers, with only a benefactor in common.
History one: A shouting match upstairs while Annie pretends to sleep. They've had this fight before. They won't have it again. His bags are packed. He tells her so. She begs him to stay, for Annie's sake. As he walks to the front door he passes Annie's room. Later, he convinced himself that the noises he heard were snores rather than stifled sobs, but that's not the way to change history.
Theory one: Time travel is possible. But changes should not be. Before Jonah, there were two schools. The first held that change is impossible, that time will always correct itself. The second theory was that change was catastrophic, and that any timeline where it happened destroyed itself. It was used, only for research, taking only memories, leaving less than fingerprints. Solving old mysteries. Before Jonah.
Praxis one: Stealing a vortex kayak is impractical. Stealing the guts of one, though, is much more reasonable a task. Lisa, in the temporal research department after dark, with Jonah connected online to help her pass for a scientist, and meanwhile distracting the research assistants still on-site this late with trollish technical debates. The hull will be easy to fabricate. Maynard has tools to work the steel and advanced ceramics.
Praxis two: Lisa, about to pass through the detector arches with a briefcase full of stolen circuits. They shouldn't be an issue. They're stuffed into the shell of an old laptop, shouldn't look like anything out of the ordinary. Except that the security guard asks her to turn it on, after she's passed, after it's been through the scanner. Not standard protocol here, but she can't refuse or comply safely. Complying buys a little time. She slowly unzips the briefcase, pulls the laptop-shaped box out. There's quick foam inside at least. Nothing rattles. She's off comms. No help coming from Jonah now. Jonah in the past is another matter. She touches the power button. The screen comes up blue, a warning of low battery power. Good contingency planning can feel like time travel when it works. Lucky thing they didn't asked her to plug it in, wait for a full boot.
History two: He's been nothing put a recurring bank transfer to Annie for years when the call comes, panicked voice relating the ruin of a life, of substance abuse and deep despair, he feels walls closing in. He places bail. He tries to get involved. It ends with a stolen large screen television and a fully-paid high end rehab clinic that she skips out on after three days.
Theory two: Changes are not only possible but profitable. Small changes. Subtle changes that do not need effects. Jonah's new theory: with the right equipment a time traveller can sever a small piece of space-time from history, can make a copy, change it, and substitute it. The original moment can be brought back, made a source of tremendous energy. A rival to an atom bomb, released all at once. Released at a trickle, power too cheap to meter.
Revelation: He is wealthy, fit, healthy, respected. He could live any life he wants. He is consumed by regret. When this is over he would just as soon detonate the moment in the Pacific as exploit it. This is too important to leave to others. He assembles the team, joins it as though he were another piece of hired help. Maynard was his middle name. It will do.
Praxis three: The energy requirements to open a vortex are immense, too great even for a wealthy man to buy anonymously. They will need to steal it. A shuttered soda factory cannot keep a determined Lisa out. All the services are connected, data, water, power. Shut down, but still ready to be activated. Jonah sets up the computers, sends proxied orders to rented Icelandic botnets. The power flickers on. The water as well, beginning to fill the tank. Data begins to flow as well, historical high-chaos data that will let him monitor changes to the timeline, ensure that they aren't large enough to disrupt the vortex and strand the travellers. The vortex kayak is a tight fit for Lisa and Maynard. It slowly orbits near the edge of the tank as the vortex builds.
Revolution: Water molecules enter a state of temporal excitement, of being at once now and then. Orange energy flares out of the ripples. A whirlpool forms, imposed with another cyclone of air-ripping crackles. The kayak, a sealed tube of metal, turns inward, downward, and backward.
The crux one: Lisa and Maynard emerge in the supply closed, impeccably uniformed, with the resonance antennae they need. They set one up there, then walk confidently to the other rooms next the half-empty room. A pole, about the height of a man, with a silver bulb at the top, with the hospital logo and electrical hazard symbols. Maynard watches the doctors bring her in, covered in bruises and surgical stitches. One assesses the internal damage, which is massive and unlikely to allow recovery. Another attaches a morphine drip with a dose that does nothing for her. Maynard fights back rage, bites his lip. He won't be arriving for two more hours.
The crux two, redux: Lisa, back in the supply closet, presses the buttons to activate the resonance just as Maynard signals her, just as Maynard-original walks into the room. They turn it off just after he leaves. They slip backward, unpleasantly through a new vortex to a few minutes before, together among the scrubs and masks. There is no time. The west wall of the closet vanishes into a grey void that bothers their eyes. They have two sapphire crystals of time now. Maynard touches the new one and vanishes for an unmeasurable instant in the timeless now. He returns holding it, and reaches out with it toward the empty grey. It snaps into place and the ticking of the old clocks resumes around them.
Resolution: Escape is smooth, with the stolen moment safely packed away in ample padding. There is a car a few blocks away. The authorities have gotten noise complaints from nearby blocks. The utilities have a few employees aware of the hacks, but nothing will be done about it until morning, by which time Lisa will have gotten her payment and Jacob his crystal of compressed time. Maynard is content to be a silent partner, ongoing, to do nothing but cash the checks.
Erattum: History is rewritten. St. James Hospital, intensive care wing. A place of concentrated, palpable discomfort. An argument on the other side of a privacy curtain between a stranger's family and doctors as she lies, quaking and he stands, knowing what he had to say. Wall clocks from when this place was first built tick out seconds one by one, out of sync. He can't stay much longer. He won't be coming back again. "Annie," he says. "I'm so sorry." He stays until the vortex pulls him away.
|# ? Apr 12, 2021 02:27|
∀ʇ ʇɥǝ qoʇʇoɯ oɟ ɐ ɹoɔʞ bnɐɹɹʎ' ʇɥɹǝǝ qǝsʇ ɟɹᴉǝups ɔᴉɹɔlǝp ʇɥǝ qɐʇʇǝɹǝp qopʎ oɟ Mᴉllᴉɐɯ Ǝɔɥǝʌǝɹɹʎ˙ Mᴉllᴉɐɯ’s ɟɐɔǝ lɐʎ ɥɐlɟ ᴉu' ɥɐlɟ onʇ oɟ ɐ sɥɐlloʍ dnpplǝ oɟ ɹnuoɟɟ ʍɐʇǝɹ˙ Hǝ looʞǝp lᴉʞǝ ʇɥǝ ʇᴉɯǝ ʇɥǝ ʇɥɹǝǝ qoʎs ɟonup ɐ ɟᴉsɥ ᴉu ɐ ɯnppʎ sɐup ʇɹɐd ɐup ʍoupǝɹǝp ɥoʍ ᴉʇ ƃoʇ ʇɥǝɹǝ˙ qnʇ ʇɥǝʎ ʞuǝʍ ǝxɐɔʇlʎ ɥoʍ Mᴉllᴉɐɯ Ǝɔɥǝʌǝɹɹʎ ƃoʇ ʇo ʍɥǝɹǝ ɥǝ ʍɐs˙
“So' ʇɥɐʇ’s ʍɥǝu ʎon sǝǝ ʇɥǝ qǝǝɯǝɹ’s ʞᴉp' nd ou ɐ ɹᴉpƃǝ˙ Hǝ sǝǝs ʎon ʇɥɹǝǝ' ɐup ʇɥǝu ɥǝ ɹᴉpǝs ɐʍɐʎ ou ɥᴉs qᴉɔʎɔlǝ'” pǝʇǝɔʇᴉʌǝ ɹosǝuqɐnɯ sɐᴉp˙
“⅄ǝs' ǝxɐɔʇlʎ'” qǝuuᴉǝ פonlp sɐᴉp˙
“Iuʇǝɹǝsʇᴉuƃ' qǝɔɐnsǝ ʎonɹ qnppʎ Ⅎɹǝp sɐʎs ʇɥǝ qǝǝɯǝɹ’s ʞᴉp ʍɐs ɾoƃƃᴉuƃ ɟoɹ ʇɥǝ ɔɹoss-ɔonuʇɹʎ ʇǝɐɯ'” ɹosǝuqɐnɯ sɐᴉp˙ “Noʇ ou ɐ qᴉɔʎɔlǝ˙ So' ʍɥᴉɔɥ ʍɐs ᴉʇ¿”
qǝuuᴉǝ’s ɟɐɔǝ ᴉs ɟlnsɥǝp˙ Hᴉs ɐɹɯdᴉʇs ʍǝɹǝ ᴉʇɔɥʎ˙ qloop sʇɐɹʇǝp ʇo dool ʇɥɹonƃɥ ʇɥǝ qɐupɐƃǝ ou ɥᴉs lǝƃ˙
“I ɯǝɐu' ɯɐʎqǝ ɥǝ ʍɐs ʍǝɐɹᴉuƃ ɥᴉs ɔɹoss-ɔonuʇɹʎ sɥᴉɹʇ' qnʇ ɥǝ ʍɐs ou ɥᴉs qᴉʞǝ' ʍɥɐʇ po ʎon ɯǝɐu¿”
┴ɥǝ qǝǝɯǝɹ’s ʞᴉp ɟlǝp onʇ oɟ ʌᴉǝʍ' ɐup ſǝɟɟ sʇoddǝp ɾnɯdᴉuƃ nd ɐup poʍu ɐup ʍɐʌᴉuƃ ɥᴉs ɐɹɯs ɐʇ ʇɥǝ qoʎ˙
“Ⅎnɔʞ' uoʍ ʍɥɐʇ¿” ſǝɟɟ sɐᴉp˙
“פǝʇ ʇɥǝ ɟnɔʞ onʇ oɟ ɥǝɹǝ¡” qǝuuᴉǝ sɐᴉp˙
“Mǝ ƃoʇʇɐ sʇɐʎ'” Ⅎɹǝp sɐᴉp˙
“No ʍɐʎ' ɯɐu'” qǝuuᴉǝ sɐᴉp˙ “No ʍɐʎ˙”
“Hǝ sɐʍ ns˙ Iʇ’ll ƃǝʇ ʍoɹsǝ ᴉɟ ʍǝ lǝɐʌǝ'” Ⅎɹǝp sɐᴉp˙
“⅄ǝɐɥ' so ʍǝ ʍǝɹǝ ƃouuɐ ƃo sɯoʞǝ soɯǝ ʍǝǝp ɐʇ ʇɥǝ bnɐɹɹʎ' ɾnsʇ lᴉʞǝ ſǝɟɟ sɐᴉp'” Ⅎɹǝp ɐpɯᴉʇʇǝp˙
“Mɥɐʇ ʍǝɹǝ ʎon ƃoᴉuƃ ʇo sɯoʞǝ ᴉʇ onʇ oɟ¿” pǝʇǝɔʇᴉʌǝ ɹosǝuqɐnɯ ɐsʞǝp˙
“Mɥɐʇ po ʎon ɯǝɐu' ʍɥɐʇ ʍǝɹǝ ʍǝ ƃouuɐ sɯoʞǝ ᴉʇ onʇ oɟ¿”
“Ԁɐdǝɹs' dᴉdǝs¿ Mɥɐʇ ʍǝɹǝ ʎon ƃoᴉuƃ ʇo sɯoʞǝ ᴉʇ onʇ oɟ¿”
Ⅎɹǝp ʍɐs sᴉlǝuʇ ɟoɹ ɐ ɯoɯǝuʇ˙ “∩ɥ' ʍǝ ʍǝɹǝ ƃouuɐ sɯoʞǝ onʇ oɟ ɐu ɐddlǝ˙”
pǝʇǝɔʇᴉʌǝ ɹosǝuqɐnɯ ɾoʇʇǝp ‘ɐddlǝ’ poʍu ou ɥᴉs lǝƃɐl dɐp ɐup uoppǝp˙
“∀up ʇɥǝu ɥǝ sʇɐɹʇs sʍᴉuƃᴉuƃ ɐ ʞuᴉɟǝ'” ſǝɟɟ sɐᴉp˙ “So' ʍǝ lǝƃƃǝp ᴉʇ' ɐup ɥǝ ʞǝdʇ ɔoɯᴉuƃ ɐɟʇǝɹ ns˙”
“Ⅎonup ʇɥɐʇ ʞuᴉɟǝ' dɹǝʇʇʎ ɟɐuɔʎ looʞᴉuƃ ʞuᴉɟǝ'” pǝʇǝɔʇᴉʌǝ ɹosǝuqɐnɯ sɐᴉp˙
ſǝɟɟ sɥɹnƃƃǝp˙ “Wɐʎqǝ ɥǝ sʇolǝ ʇɥɐʇ ʇoo˙”
“┴ǝll ɯǝ ʍɥɐʇ qǝuuᴉǝ pᴉp uǝxʇ'” ɹosǝuqɐnɯ sɐᴉp˙
┴ɥǝ qoʎs ɥɐp qǝǝu dnʇ ᴉuʇo sǝdɐɹɐʇǝ ɹooɯs ɟoɹ pǝʇǝɔʇᴉʌǝ ɹosǝuqɐnɯ ʇo ɐsʞ soɯǝ bnǝsʇᴉous˙ ┴ɥǝ ɹǝsdoupᴉuƃ dɐʇɹolɯɐu ʍɥo pɹoʌǝ ʇɥǝ ʞᴉps ʇo ʇɥǝ sʇɐʇᴉou ɯǝuʇᴉouǝp ʇɥǝᴉɹ sᴉlǝuɔǝ ᴉu ʇɥǝ pɹᴉʌǝ oʌǝɹ˙ Soɯǝʇɥᴉuƃ ɹnqqǝp ɥᴉɯ ʇɥǝ ʍɹouƃ ʍɐʎ' ɐup ɹosǝuqɐnɯ dnʇ ʇɥǝɯ ᴉu sǝdɐɹɐʇǝ ɹooɯs ʍɥǝɹǝ ɥǝ lᴉǝp ɐup ʇolp ʇɥǝɯ soɯǝouǝ ʍonlp ɔɐll ʇɥǝᴉɹ dɐɹǝuʇs˙
“ſǝɟɟ sɐʎs ʎon ʍǝɹǝ ƃoᴉuƃ ʇo qnʎ ʍǝǝp ɟɹoɯ Ǝɔɥǝʌǝɹɹʎ'” ɹosǝuqɐnɯ sɐᴉp˙ “⅄on pᴉpu’ʇ ɥɐʌǝ ᴉʇ ʎǝʇ˙”
“┴ɥɐʇ’s ʍɥɐʇ I ɯǝɐuʇ'” qǝuuᴉǝ sɐᴉp˙ “פouuɐ ƃo ʇo ʇɥǝ bnɐɹɹʎ' ɐup qnʎ ʇɥǝ ʍǝǝp ɟɹoɯ ʇɥǝ ɥoɯǝlǝss ƃnʎ˙”
“∀up ſǝɟɟ ᴉs ƃoᴉuƃ ʇo nsǝ ɥᴉs pɐp’s ʞuᴉɟǝ ʇo ʇɹɐpǝ ɟoɹ ʇɥǝ ʍǝǝp¿”
“poǝsu’ʇ sǝǝɯ lᴉʞǝ snɔɥ ɐ ƃoop ᴉpǝɐ ᴉu ɥᴉupsᴉƃɥʇ' poǝs ᴉʇ¿”
qǝuuᴉǝ sɥᴉɟʇǝp nuɔoɯɟoɹʇɐqlʎ ᴉu ʇɥǝ dlɐsʇᴉɔ ɔɥɐᴉɹ˙
“∀up ʇɥɐʇ’s ʍɥǝu qǝuuᴉǝ ʇɐɔʞlǝs ɥᴉɯ' ɐup ɥǝ ƃoʇ ɔnʇ ou ʇɥǝ ɐɹɯ'” ſǝɟɟ sɐᴉp˙
“I sɐʍ' dɹǝʇʇʎ uɐsʇʎ ɔnʇ˙ Hǝ’s lnɔʞʎ'” ɹosǝuqɐnɯ sɐᴉp˙ ſǝɟɟ uoppǝp˙
“qǝuuᴉǝ sɐʌǝp onɹ lᴉʌǝs'” ſǝɟɟ sɐᴉp ɔouɟᴉpǝuʇlʎ˙ “┴ɥᴉs ʍɐs sǝlɟ-pǝɟǝusǝ˙”
“Iɟ I ɔɥǝɔʞ ʇɥɐʇ ʞuᴉɟǝ ɟoɹ dɹᴉuʇs' ɐɯ I ƃoᴉuƃ ʇo ɟᴉup soɯǝ ǝxʇɹɐ dɹᴉuʇs ou ʇɥɐʇ ʞuᴉɟǝ¿” pǝʇǝɔʇᴉʌǝ ɹosǝuqɐnɯ sɐᴉp˙
Ⅎɹǝp sʍɐlloʍǝp ɥɐɹp˙ “I ɯᴉƃɥʇ ɥɐʌǝ dᴉɔʞǝp ᴉʇ nd' I pnuuo' I ʇɥonƃɥʇ ᴉʇ ʍɐs sɐɟǝɹ ʇo ɥɐuƃ ou ʇo ᴉʇ ʇɥǝu ɾnsʇ lǝɐʌǝ ᴉʇ ʇɥǝɹǝ˙ I ʇɥᴉuʞ I ɯnsʇ ɥɐʌǝ pɹoddǝp ᴉʇ qɐɔʞ ʇɥǝɹǝ' ɐɟʇǝɹ I sɐʍ qᴉllʎ qǝǝɯǝɹ qᴉʞǝ ɐʍɐʎ˙”
“Mɥǝɹǝ’s ʇɥǝ ʍǝǝp' Ⅎɹǝp¿ Mɥɐʇ ɥɐddǝuǝp ʇo ʇɥɐʇ¿”
“Hoʍ sɥonlp I ʞuoʍ¡ Wɐʎqǝ ᴉʇ ɟǝll onʇ oɟ ʇɥǝ pnpǝ’s doɔʞǝʇ ʍɥǝu ɥǝ ʍǝuʇ poʍu ʇɥǝ ɔlᴉɟɟ' sɥᴉʇ'” Ⅎɹǝp sɐᴉp˙
┴ɥǝ ɹooɯ qǝuuᴉǝ sɐʇ ᴉu ʍɐs uo qᴉƃƃǝɹ ʇɥɐu ɐ qɹooɯ ɔlosǝʇ˙ ┴ɥǝɹǝ ʍɐs uo ʇʍo-ʍɐʎ ɯᴉɹɹoɹ˙ ſnsʇ ɐ sɯɐll pǝsʞ' ʇʍo ɔɥɐᴉɹs' ʇɐdǝ ɹǝɔoɹpǝɹ ɐup ɐ ɔoɟɟǝǝ sʇɐᴉu ou ʇɥǝ ɔɐɹdǝʇ˙
“Ɔnʇ ʇɥǝ sɥᴉʇ qǝuuᴉǝ˙”
qǝuuᴉǝ sʇoddǝp ʇɐlʞᴉuƃ ɐqonʇ Ǝɔɥǝʌǝɹɹʎ ɯnƃƃᴉuƃ ʇɥǝɯ ʍᴉʇɥ ɐ ʞuᴉɟǝ˙
“ſǝɟɟ sɐʎs ʇɥɐʇ ʍɐs ʎonɹ ʞuᴉɟǝ˙ ┴ɥɐʇ’s ɐɔɔǝssoɹʎ ʇo ɯnɹpǝɹ˙ Hǝ sɐʎs ᴉʇ ʍɐs ʎonɹ ᴉpǝɐ ɐup ʎon qnllᴉǝp ɥᴉɯ ᴉuʇo ᴉʇ˙ Ⅎɹǝp’s ʇǝllᴉuƃ ɯǝ ʇɥǝ ǝxɐɔʇ sɐɯǝ ʇɥᴉuƃ˙ ⅄on’ɹǝ ʇɥǝ oulʎ ouǝ ʍɥo’s lʎᴉuƃ ʇo ɯǝ ɹᴉƃɥʇ uoʍ˙”
qǝuuᴉǝ dnsɥǝp ɥᴉɯsǝlɟ qɐɔʞʍɐɹp ɐup ɟlɐᴉlǝp ɐɔɹoss ʇɥǝ ƃɹonup' ʇɹʎᴉuƃ ʇo ƃǝʇ ɐʍɐʎ ɟɹoɯ pǝʇǝɔʇᴉʌǝ ɹosǝuqɐnɯ˙
“┴ɥǝʎ’ɹǝ lʎᴉuƃ' ʇɥǝʎ’ɹǝ lʎᴉuƃ' ʇɥǝʎ’ɹǝ lʎᴉuƃ' ʇɥǝʎ’ɹǝ lʎᴉuƃ' ᴉʇ’s uoʇ ʇɹnǝ' ɟnɔʞᴉuƃ sɥᴉʇ' ʇɥǝʎ’ɹǝ lʎᴉuƃ'” qǝuuᴉǝ qɹoʞǝ poʍu ɥʎdǝɹʌǝuʇᴉlɐʇᴉuƃ˙ Hǝ ɹǝdǝɐʇǝp ɥᴉɯsǝlɟ˙
“Mɥɐʇ ɹǝɐllʎ ɥɐddǝuǝp onʇ ʇɥǝɹǝ¿”
“Iʇ ʍɐs ɐll ſǝɟɟ’s ᴉpǝɐ˙ Mǝ ʍǝɹǝ ƃoᴉuƃ ʇo sʇǝɐl ʇɥǝ ʍǝǝp˙ I ɾnsʇ ʇɥonƃɥʇ ʍǝ ʍǝɹǝ ƃoᴉuƃ ʇo ƃǝʇ ʇɥǝ ʍǝǝp' ɯɐu' ᴉʇ ʍɐsu’ʇ snddosǝp ʇo ɥɐddǝu lᴉʞǝ ʇɥᴉs˙ Ⅎɹǝp ƃɐʌǝ ɥᴉɯ ʇɥǝ ʞuᴉɟǝ˙”
pǝʇǝɔʇᴉʌǝ ɹosǝuqɐnɯ ʇnɹuǝp ou ʇɥǝ ɹǝɔoɹpᴉuƃ˙ qǝuuᴉǝ’s qɹǝɐʇɥᴉuƃ ɥɐp sʇɐɹʇǝp ʇo sloʍ' ɐup ɥǝ qɐɹǝlʎ ɔoɯdosǝp ɥᴉɯsǝlɟ˙
“┴ǝll ɯǝ ʍɥɐʇ ɥɐddǝus ɹᴉƃɥʇ ɐɟʇǝɹ ʎon ɔɥǝɔʞ ou Mᴉllᴉɐɯ Ǝɔɥǝʌǝɹɹʎ˙”
“Mǝ sɐʍ qᴉllʎ qǝǝɯǝɹ qᴉʞᴉuƃ ou ʇɥǝ ʇɹɐᴉl'” ſǝɟɟ sɐᴉp˙ “I ʇɹᴉǝp ʇo ɟlɐƃ ɥᴉɯ poʍu' ʇo ƃo ƃǝʇ ɥǝld sᴉuɔǝ ɥǝ ɥɐs ɐ qᴉʞǝ˙ qǝuuᴉǝ’s qlǝǝpᴉuƃ dɹǝʇʇʎ qɐp˙”
|# ? Apr 12, 2021 03:12|
|# ? Apr 12, 2021 03:13|
“And?” Frederick asks.
“I- I kill you,” I sob. “Right in front of the horses.”
My husband smiles and pats his lap with one hand. “A-ha, lovely,” he says. “Horses! Once again, proof of sound investing. I’m rather pleased with my future selves. I do trend well, eh?”
“You die! Murdered! By me!”
“It’s not all roses, darling, I’ll admit, sure, but... silver lining and that. You know how I fear I’ll squander the family fortune on frivolous pursuits.”
“I shoot you in the face, Frederick!”
“Gunshot,” he says quietly, nodding and making a note. “And where were we?”
“Uh… T-Texas. United States.” Remembering the future is like remembering a dream. It’s vivid and real until it’s not. And it’s already slipping. The wild eyes of the horses. The gunshot scared them. Frederick’s blood pooling around his body, seep into the crisp, white cloth of his riding breeches. So impractically British in the sweltering heat of the Americas.
“Ghastly,” Frederick says. “Texas. Happy to take that one off the ‘Places in which to move’ list.” He stands and with perfectly spaced, exquisitely legible boarding school trained handwriting adds my vision to the whiteboard. Number thirty-six. I’ve killed him thirty-six times. My god.
It doesn’t matter where we move to, what medications I take, what therapy I undergo, it always ends the same because the problem is a second brain tumor. Inoperable. Frederick doesn’t believe the tumor exists, which I suppose is fair. Doctors won’t find it for another fifteen years. Until it’s too late.
A knife in Avignon. A hammer in Sunningdale. Pistol in New York. Knife again in both Billinghay and Bransby. Rat poison in Washingborough. A pistol in London. London twice…
“Why does the second London say, ‘Roof,’ again?”
“You push me,” he says. “You gave quite the visceral description of my splattering. I hit the street and bounce once and then my corpse is mangled by the wheels of a passing lorry. In front of schoolchildren, no less. And we lost all the money! An apartment’s roof. We were renting! Can you imagine?”
“Yes,” I say. “I grew up poor.”
Frederick purses his lips. “I’m sorry,” he says. “I was aiming for a bit of levity. I would give away everything I own to be with you and have not a single regret.”
I wipe my eyes. He kneels in front of me and takes my hands in his. He kisses my fingers.
“I am envious,” he says.
“You’ve lived thirty-six lives with me, darling. And I’ll get only the one with you.”
“They all end poorly, Frederick.”
“Life always ends,” he says. “And yours a lot sooner than mine if you don’t go into surgery tomorrow for this tumor.”
He means the first tumor.
I shake my head. I can’t do it. I won’t do it. Better to die now, happy and married and at peace, than in some horrid future where my rationality, my ability to control my emotions, to control my thoughts, to control my self, is eaten away until I commit murder.
And I’m ugly crying. My god.
Frederick wraps his arms around me and nestles my head against chest.
“I know it is frightening,” he says. “But you have to get this surgery. You have to trust me.”
“No!” I sob, pushing him off. “You have to trust me! It isn’t worth it! I don’t want it!”
He presses his palms against his eyes. “Another future then,” he says. “Let’s find one where you don’t kill me.”
“There’s not going to be one,” I say.
“Because of the second tumor that the doctors can’t find?”
“Right,” he says. “Darling, listen, I’m willing to humor you on this-”
“All night!” he says. “We can do this all night. I don’t mind it! But, please, for just a moment, a single moment, try and see this through my eyes. You can’t bring me something from the future other than news of my pasing. You won’t tell me a business to invest in. You won’t-”
“It doesn’t work like that! I can only remember the last moments before I come back! Like in a dream. And everything else is so vague and I lose it so quickly...”
“Yes,” he says. “You’ve told me. But, please, darling, put yourself in my shoes. I have a lovely wife with a terrible tumor pressing against her temporal lobe. Of which common symptoms include vivid hallucinations and intense paranoia.”
“You think I’m crazy!”
“I think you’re sick,” he says. “The alternative is that you have an additional medical condition that no doctor can diagnose. A second tumor no doctor can find. And an ability to time travel but only from the future in the moments immediately after you kill me and only back to today. The day before your admittedly quite scary surgery. I believe some skepticism on my part is forgivable, yes?”
I cross my arms.
“It will be okay,” he says. “We’ll be okay. You’re not going to kill me.”
He’s right. I’m going to kill myself. I’ll make a noose out of my bathrobe’s sash and do it after he goes to sleep. It’s the only way to protect him.
Frederick sits back at his desk and scribbles something on a piece of paper. He carefully folds it, dates it, and slides it into the inside pocket of his jacket. He smiles.
“I’ve written you a secret message,” he says. “I will carry it here in my pocket for the rest of my life."
“What’s it say?”
“Oh, darling.” He winks. “You’ll have to kill me first.”
His head makes an awful thumping sound as it hits the stairs. And I’m crying, ugly crying, but I tighten my grip on his ankles and keep dragging his body down into the wine cellar. He moans weakly. He isn’t dead yet. Good. I didn’t hit him too hard with the hammer. Frederick loves wine. That’s how he should die. He should drown in it like an ortolan in Armagnac. His love deserves such a beautiful end. I lay him in front of a cask and cram a funnel into his mouth. I knock his hands away. I sit on his chest to pin him in place as I open the cask of Carménère and let the rich red liquid flow over him. And I’m weeping. He keeps fighting me with his hands but he’s weak. Too weak.
He pulls a letter from his jacket.
It is stained with blood and wine.
I open it.
Whatever the end, our life together was worth it
I open my eyes and Frederick is still sitting at his desk and smiling at me.
“No,” I say. “Our life together isn’t worth that.”
|# ? Apr 12, 2021 04:10|
Yoruichi fucked around with this message at 09:04 on Aug 30, 2021
|# ? Apr 12, 2021 04:54|
Okay it’s been a weird day and I have to get up early tomorrow, so the submission window will stay open until I get to work tomorrow, probably around 7:00 AM PDT. Use your time wisely.
|# ? Apr 12, 2021 06:40|
Okay well never mind I guess.
Submissions are CLOSED
I'll let you know when we figure out what to do with... this.
|# ? Apr 12, 2021 14:04|
|# ? Apr 12, 2021 14:05|
INTERPROMPT: What the hell did I just read
|# ? Apr 12, 2021 16:22|
Just a pinch
It’s often said that you get what you paid for. This bedsit fits the bill. The wallpaper tries to look Victorian, but the corners are peeling, and black mould lines the inside. There’s a lamp with no shade; just a dangling bulb over a mattress, cardboard boxes, and piles of knitted sweaters.
A balding man rubs his belly with one hand, and holds a sheet of paper with another. The bulbous stomach wobbles and gyrates. He rubs with vigor, mashing the purple sweater against the mound of his belly. Then he plops onto the mattress, and pulls the sweater over his stomach, revealing the forest of ginger body hair beneath.
He reaches one index finger into the bowl of his navel, scraping its depths like a spoon scraping the bottom of a pudding pot. He retrieves one cubic centimeter of purple lint, which he pinches between his finger and thumb. He rolls it into a ball.
He places it into a cardboard box, near the pile of sweaters; sweaters of every colour have filled this box with little balls of lint. He peels a label off his paper, and slaps it onto the cardboard.
‘Premium Navel Fluff - 500 units
|# ? Apr 12, 2021 19:56|
|# ? Apr 13, 2021 06:24|
Thunderdome CDLIV: The Great Goon Walkabout
There's a prompt I've been wanting to do for at least five years, so dammit, we're doing it. I go on a lot of walks and half the time I forget to charge my earbuds, and it's not safe to read phone while walking so I just walk and think. The weird thing is, that's when I want to write the most! I have no problem thinking up all sorts of things I want to write down (but usually forget when I get to where I'm going). This week I want you to do the same* (except remember).
I want you to leave your headphones at home and walk around going nowhere. Just walk. Walk and think and look and marvel at our weird strange world. 1 mile or 1.5 km = 100 words (yeah yeah yeah). Normal, everyday steps don't count! you have to walk for no reason other than to observe and think.
Also when you sign up I will assign you a flower, because you'll probably see flowers on your walk. I like flowers. Hopefully you do too. Flowers have a ton of symbolic meaning which you can use or it can just be a pretty thing to inspire you and serve as the seed for your thoughts while you walk around.
I don't want to rules lawyer this poo poo so we're using the honor system here. When you submit, give a quick journal of your walks and your total earned word count. e.g.
story submitter posted:
Day 1: walked 2 miles. saw a butterfly
Other than that, have fun, be safe, and let your mind and feet wander!
Wordcount: 1,500 max
Signup deadline: Friday, April 16, 11:59pm PST
Submission deadline: Monday, April 18, 6:00am PST
no: erotica, weird performance art nobody gets, bad stories
* yeah this prompt is pretty ableist, so if you can't walk for whatever reason, then go find a nice park or somewhere secluded and sit there and do the thinkin. 20 minutes = 100 words. If you can't go outside safely because of coronavirus chuds or military juntas, then PM me with a proposed alternative and I'll probably be chill with it.
1. sebmojo - california poppy
2. Thranguy - ghost orchid
3. brotherly - wisteria
4. a friendly penguin - snap dragon
5. noah - titan arum
6. Azza Bamboo - morning glory
7. tuyop - trillium
8. Sitting Here - stinging nettle
9. Mercedes - dandelion
10. flerp - jade plant
crabrock fucked around with this message at 17:59 on Apr 17, 2021
|# ? Apr 13, 2021 07:25|
|# ? Apr 13, 2021 07:28|
I'm walkin here
|# ? Apr 13, 2021 08:37|
the california poppy is my all time favorite flower. in the spring time it pops up everywhere: in a patch of just a few flowers in the shade of a redwood, or covering entire mountainsides in orange. I love them, please do them good.
"It can also be used as a symbol of imagination, messages delivered in dreams, beauty, success, luxury, extravagance, and even peace in death."
I'm walkin here
this is the ghost orchid. the movie "adaptation" is one of my favorite movies. it's so weird. it's a cool flower tho.
"Its white flowers have a vaguely spectral appearance, and they seem to hover in the forest due to an illusion created by the leafless plant. This effect also makes the rare orchid even harder to find, especially outside the brief, unpredictable window when it blooms in summer."
crabrock fucked around with this message at 16:55 on Apr 13, 2021
|# ? Apr 13, 2021 09:17|
In and this post will be my diary
Day 1 - Ran 6 miles. Normally I listen to audiobooks while running but left the headphones behind in the spirit of the week. Along the path on my main route, still in the first mile, dogwood trees bloomed like profusions of white fluffy clouds. At one point, there are so many it's like running through a blossom tunnel. They'll stay bloomed for another week or so, and my run will be really pretty, until it's not pretty anymore. Haven't thought of a story idea yet.
Day 2 - Ran 5 miles. Bunches of yellow wildflowers grow along the creek that cuts through the center of my neighborhood. The flowers look great for a few weeks, but most of them are already starting to die out. They'll turn to little bushy green things, get covered over by weeds, then come back next year. I might have a story idea.
Day 3 - Ran 6 miles. I went looking for wisteria on the run, but didn't find any until I went for a walk with my toddler later on. I THINK there's a wisteria tree in the front yard of one of my bougie neighbors. It's connected to a slack line at one end, and I've never seen anyone slack on that thing, so I'm kind of left wondering why they have it in their front yard. No judgement though. Yards are stupid. We should pave over them. I have a story idea, and wrote the first 700 words, which is way too long of an intro. Things are not looking good this week!
Day 4 - Ran 3 miles. I meant to do 4 but was short on time. I jogged around the drainage ditches near here, and the weird buzzing water treatment shed, and all the strange concrete pipes that help funnel the little springs and rivers away from the neighborhoods and into the designated overflow places. One of those bogs is packed with what look like dried-up cattails and high brush and swampy dirt and curling growing vines that seem to choke down any tree that tried to take root in that pit. There are also plastic baggies of dog poo poo some rear end in a top hat threw in there. The baggies are invisible in the summer, when the plants get lush, then appear again each winter. Haven't written anything new in the story. Earned a total of 1200 words so far. Definitely going to have to cut that opening a whole ton.
Day 5 – walked 1 mile with the dog then 2 miles with my kids. Saturdays are my rest day. It was a gray, chilly afternoon, and the kids weren’t happy. We stopped under the pine trees and my 3.5yo ran around looking for pinecones while my 1.5yo threw dirt. We gathered up a good cone stack and I made sure to throw some back for next time. The dogwoods are still blossomed and my kids could not have given fewer shits. I love it. Nature’s the worst. I wrote my story this morning and it ended up around 1750 words. I believe I have now earned the maximum 1500 words and so tomorrow morning I will gut then post. This is my curse. This is my truth. So ends my journal.
brotherly fucked around with this message at 22:56 on Apr 17, 2021
|# ? Apr 13, 2021 10:23|
|# ? Apr 13, 2021 11:47|
|# ? Apr 13, 2021 14:16|
In and this post will be my diary
technically it's a "tree" but people grow it on vines along their houses/fences, so i count Wisteria as a flower. I also use a wisteria extract in my science to label brain parts.
"Historically, Wisteria symbolizes long-life and immortality. ... In Japanese Kabuki theater, the symbolism for the Wisteria is Love, Sensuality, Support, Sensitivity, Bliss and Tenderness. The abundance of the Wisteria flowering vine also signifies our own expanding consciousness."
you get snap dragons. every time we see them my wife makes them "talk"
"Snapdragons have multiple meanings. They can represent strength, as they're able to grow in rocky, typically uninhabitable areas, but they can also symbolize themes like deviousness and grace. Snapdragons are sometimes used as a charm against falsehood."
you get this stinky boy, the titan arum (the corpse flower)
"The rarity of the flowers makes them impractical for a bouquet. They are too large, and blooms quickly fade once they emerge. Many consider them to be an unlucky flower because of the smell. The associated fragrance also gives it some symbolism with decay. Some choose to ignore this and instead see it as a symbol of long life. This is because many plants can live as long as 40 to 75 years."
|# ? Apr 13, 2021 16:49|
Walk 1 - 2.5 miles
Walked some farmers fields. Saw a pheasant. Also saw a blackbird flying into the wind (and not getting very far). Spent some time on a hilltop looking over the South suburbs of the city.
Walk 2 - 6 miles.
Walked the footpath of the bypass. Road's so new, it doesn't yet have rush hour traffic at rush hour. Wind blew from the direction of the abbatoir: Smelled porky for a while. Saw a bouquet of dead flowers taped to a lamppost. Walked past a second world war memorial. It's for bomber command. I thought about the book I'm reading, about a man's experiences in Dresden. Walked through a wooded area. Some pigeons fled their trees when I walked by. Squirrels scurried away, bounding from tree to tree. I guess us humans have a well deserved reputation.
Azza Bamboo fucked around with this message at 17:56 on Apr 16, 2021
|# ? Apr 13, 2021 20:55|
I'm very in. There are no flowers here because it is a toxic tundra but I appreciate the effort.
|# ? Apr 13, 2021 23:19|
I'm IN because i followed through on walking 5.4 miles today. I took a lot of photos and sat under a silver tree.
|# ? Apr 14, 2021 03:59|
Five miles for me.
|# ? Apr 14, 2021 12:35|
your flower is the morning glory.
"Sometimes thought of as a weed, this vine's flowers only bloom for one day each, then shrivel up and die. It can symbolize unrequited love or love that is in vain, and it can also represent the mortality of life. There’s significant Chinese folklore surrounding this flower, which indicates that lovers can only meet on one special day of the year."
I'm very in. There are no flowers here because it is a toxic tundra but I appreciate the effort.
ah, well then have one of ours: Trillium
"Trillium symbolizes consciousness, embodiment and mutuality. It is a symbol of elegance and precision. It also represents fertility. In history, it was considered a sacred female herb that facilitated childbirth and cured infertility."
I'm IN because i followed through on walking 5.4 miles today. I took a lot of photos and sat under a silver tree.
i always really liked the flowers on stinging nettle. it's got anti-picking tech built in. the weird thing is i've run through so much stinging nettle in my day that i actually like the feeling, and miss it. resist the urge to write about nettle tea, who cares.
"Nettle has the power of protection and fertility, can be used to protect one’s self from lightning, to enhance fertility particularly in men, and bestow courage on those who carry it. In Kawaiisu tribal practice as in Celtic lore, nettle serves as a threshold guardian. Folklore notes Nettle as growing from or near the dead."
|# ? Apr 14, 2021 17:16|
Day 1. Rode my electric skateboard through the park near my house. It was stupid cold so I only got 4 miles.
|# ? Apr 14, 2021 22:30|
Thunderdome Week 453 Crits: Sorry I didn't have it in me to do another multimedia presentation
First of all, I want to thank everyone again, because this was hands-down my favorite week of TD ever, and it was a ton of fun to watch everyone interacting with poo poo and (I hope) having fun. Anyway, enough gushy stuff, here's the part you're actually going to read:
Maynard’s Magical Remembering Potion
Story summary: Terry works at a magic potion factory and cares for his mother, who is in an advanced stage of Alzheimer’s. He is having trouble remembering things at his job (and everywhere else), whether because of stress or something being wrong with him, and is fired from his managerial job for his carelessness. He gets a phone call from the hired caregiver for his mother telling him that his mother is in the hospital, and while it is clear the end seems to be near, it is not clear whether or not his mother is still alive. Angry and fearful that he will lose his memory as well, Terry overpowers the security guard escorting him out of the building and goes to the factory floor, where he destroys some equipment and potion batches for unclear reasons.
Crit: Your first sentence is really hard to parse. I have no idea what a plasma warp conduit is, so it’s really hard to imagine what rocking one looks like, let alone the context to place this in. There’s a lot going on in your opening scene, and it wasn’t clear what SHOULD and should NOT be happening in it. I had no idea if this was an intended part of the process or not, or where the actions were taking place; I honestly thought your characters were aboard a spaceship well into your opening scene, so you definitely need to include more information.
There’s also a huge disconnect between the factory and the rest of Terry’s life; I guess the point couple maybe just be the juxtaposition of the magical and the mundane, but if there’s literally a memory potion in the world of the story, why is there still Alzheimer’s??
I don’t think your idea is bad, even if it does seem a little Blunt Force obvious in the execution. I’m still not clear on what Terry is trying to accomplish in the opening/chronologically last scene: he trying to make the eponymous potion? Is it revenge? Whatever it is, it certainly isn’t going to the hospital to say goodbye to his dying mother.
Aesop on Wine
Story summary: Aesop is drunk and hanging out with his friend Phaedrus, whose dialogue we never hear. Aesop tells Phaedrus several, possibly interconnected fables, most of which are bizarre and nonsensical, delivering morals of questionable utility or truthfulness. Towards the end, Aesop seems to imply that the scenario is in fact a script of some kind, breaking the fourth wall several times and making reference to aspects of the story itself, such as wordcount and the anachronistic nature of his conversation with Phaedrus.
Crit: Okay so this is… not great. But it’s also kind of charming? It’s very cheeky, and in a week that has dissolved to utter loving madness I appreciate the meta aspect (also lol at the “exactly 1397 words when the archive wordcount is a loving slot machine). It’s not HM material, but it made me laugh; thus, my fickle whim has allowed you to scrape past without a DM this week, but I wouldn’t count on that saving you in the future.
So, on a more critically useful note: I think that you know that you went off the deep end with this one. It’s over-the-top to an excessive degree, and the extremely tenuous nature of the connection between the stories weren’t enough to make up for how monkeycheese and obnoxious your “narrative” is. You’ve noticed, of course, the quotations I’ve used; there was some question in the judges’ chamber of whether or not this really counted as a story, since it mostly seems to just be “lol so random/drunk” instead of anything resembling coherence. Again, you were saved basically by my laughing at your story; according to a co-judge “if it made you laugh, it deserves a no mention,” (paraphrasing) so here we are.
I feel like the stories that I’ve seen out of you are trying really really hard to be bombastic and out there, but it feels like you go too hard at everything, and it kind of ends up as being a mess. When you have these really big, out-there ideas (or gimmicks), it’s easy to get lost up your own rear end - as I have done myself, many times. I think it would be a good idea to sit down and try to write something simple - note that “simple” does not mean “boring,” but rather instead of a Grand Narrative, maybe a small moment. That will give you some time to introduce one or two concepts to your reader more slowly, and give your characters time to actually display some personality.
I’m going to use an example from the last story of yours I judged, but you had these really big ideas about these living furnaces, with this huge battle between two brothers on opposite sides of the oil versus kerosene (I think?) battle, and it was all just… so much. Holy poo poo it was so much.
So here is a good place to take something big and practice that simplification. Let’s start small: a single moment in one character’s life that was important, maybe only to them. For example, what was the first time your main character used his flame powers? Was it easy? Hard? How did that make him feel? What sort of challenges did he face? How did it affect his relationship with his brother? It’s a very personal moment, and small enough that you can feed your reader some description of this unusual character and the world he lives in, without getting caught up in Epic Battle Town.
Story Summary: Two people drive to an abandoned factory in the woods, with the intention of calling on an elf to restore a man’s sanity. In doing so, the factory is returned to its former working state. This, in turn, causes the woods to be cut down, so a young woman - implied to be the younger self of the woman from the first bargain - calls on the same elf to save the woods, which in then shuts down the factory (again?).
Crit: The biggest thing this story suffers from is it’s extreme opacity. Your story reminded me a LOT of some books I’ve read (coughGENEWOLFEcough) where I could tell that there was a lot going on (or supposed to be) behind the scenes that were being concealed/danced around for one reason or another. Let me tell you, that’s a super frustrating experience, and probably the reason why I have only ever managed to make it through one Gene Wolfe book (which, apparently, was “barely a Gene Wolfe book,” probably because it made sense).
I can tell that there is a cyclical nature to the events here, and I can see the overall shape of it (push/pull between the factory and the forest), but the ring and the kissing and the timeline and the old guy that they throw on a random mattress at the beginning of the story and and and… gently caress if I know what’s going on.
I would be really interested to see another draft of this with a higher word count where you explained a little more about what was happening here, because I’m definitely intrigued (like every time I try to start a Gene Wolfe book). If you end up doing more with it, please let me know!
Story summary: A man reflects on the dissolution of his relationship in the process of moving back home. The events are shown in reverse, and there’s a theme of mirroring and miscommunication between the couple.
Crit: Oooh, this is a good one. Very atmospheric, very thematic. I guess my only thought is that there wasn’t much of a reason for it to be backwards? I mean, I enjoy the love story in reverse bit, but this story would read just as easily forwards, so it seems… idk, unnecessary? I guess upon further reflection (haha) it was meant as a continuation of your theme, which, alright, fair enough. It’s well-written and fun (and you charmed the pants off of one of my cojudges), but it didn’t stick with me as much as some of these.
Stealing a Moment
Story summary: A wealthy man assembles a team to steal a time machine. He then covertly joins the team himself under an assumed name in order to change his own actions at his daughter’s deathbed.
Crit: Whoof. Okay. I think I got all of that. Goddamnit, Thrangles.
I feel like I need to apologize to you specifically, because this is hands-down the best piece of flash fiction written this week, and was really my only hangup during judgement. There are a few questions I still had at the end, mainly confusion over who exactly Maynard is (one of the other judges and I were pretty convinced he was the same person as Jonah for a bit), and I felt like the titles at the beginning of each scene were a little … awkward, maybe? I don’t know. Personally I was wondering if they were an excuse to sneak “erratum” in there, as a reference to toanoradian’s predicted archival error. Speaking of, was Maynard’s name a reference to Brotherly’s story, or was that really a coincidence? This week absolutely broke my brain (in a good way!), so I can’t tell if I’m seeing patterns where there are none.
Tl;dr - I’m sorry and please publish this.
Story summary: Three boys are being interrogated by the same police officer as to the death of a homeless man. I think that what actually happened was the boys were attempting to buy weed from the man, intending to pay (or not to pay?) with a knife belonging to one boy’s father. A struggle ensues, and one or two of the boys is hurt and the homeless man ends up dead. Another kid sees the boys standing over the body and either runs to call the police or to get help. In the interrogation room, the detective lies to the boys about calling their parents, and then about what each has said about the others, trying to get one of them to confess to murder. None of this is going to be admissible in court.
Crit: This physically hurt me to read in the original, and I was pretty convinced that it just didn’t make sense because it was so hard to read, but now that I’ve read the un-flipped version I think it may just not have made sense to begin with? Weirdly I think that this would make a lot more sense as a video, just because I had a hell of a time keeping the different boys’ names straight, so I just had no idea who was saying what and why. If you want to keep this as a written piece, I think you are going to need to concede the constant formatting in favor of something that will help your reader know who is saying what to whom.
Story summary: On the eve of her upcoming brain surgery, a woman is repeatedly brought back to the present moment after having lived thirty-eight different lives up until she murders her husband in each iteration. Uh, wow, that is an awkward sentence. The woman tries to argue with her husband about going through with the surgery, as she believes the only way to not kill him is to let the brain tumor she has presently to kill her, since the surgery, and subsequently undiagnosed second tumor, will inevitably lead to her husband’s death. Her husband, charting out each of her previous lives (and his own murders), insists that there must be a way to change the outcome, promising her a secret message in his breast pocket the next time she kills him. The woman then murders her husband immediately to find the message, then returns to before the murder to contradict his sentiment.
Crit: Okay, I’ll level with you because I feel kinda guilty for giving this a DM: this is not the worst story this week. I didn’t even particularly dislike it the first time I read it, but one of my cojudges took a particular issue with it, and you know, talking about it, I understand where they’re coming from. There are a lot of deliberate choices here that either don’t make sense, or feel like they were chosen for the shock factor, and it detracts a lot from the piece.
The biggest issue for me was that the more I came back to it, the more I didn’t understand how the second tumor and the murder of her husband were connected. Why did the tumor specifically make her murder her husband every single time? You mention that the second tumor is pressing on her temporal lobe, which explains the “time travel,” but I don’t really understand how that adds up to murder. I know it’s kind of nitpicky, but I would have liked some more explanation like that, even a trivial one like “the tumor grew until it started to make her aggressive,” although even that wouldn’t necessarily guarantee the consistent murder of her husband and only her husband every single time.
I’d honestly be more forgiving of that, but you had plenty of words you could have used to make things clearer (and there were several other things that could have been clarified, like the exact timeline of the day in question; is she coming back from the future every five minutes or is she recalling these all at once?). As it stands, the whole murdering-her-husband thing doesn’t really make sense, and almost comes off as violence for the sake of violence. And, even though it’s unfair, you are one of my favorite TD authors, and this was a bit of a letdown. I usually try really hard not to meta-assess stories like that, but this week was absolutely impossible to read in judgemode, sorry. If you want to brawl me over that, I will happily accept my literary rear end-kicking.
gently caress you, Craig.
Story summary: A woman enters a bar and sees her ex. She repeats the scenario several times, trying out different interactions and several methods of revenge. In the end she simply ignores him, instead drawing the attention of the crowd until her ex slinks away unnoticed.
Crit: First of all, thank you for involving me with the format. I had a lot of fun, and it’s always nice to talk to you. Your story is another one that I liked, and it has a good premise, but it didn’t quite have me by the throat like some of the other entries did. I almost feel like you could have gotten one more scenario out of this, or had some kind of afterword/denouement, that would have helped add more emphasis/importance to the last scenario. I wouldn’t say I was surprised that your last scene was then end of your story, but I didn’t get the “good end” sense from it that I was expecting. If you’re gonna do a Groundhog’s Day, I think you need to make it abundantly clear that This Is It, This Is The Real Ending. Still, a strong piece and enjoyable.
curlingiron fucked around with this message at 03:49 on Apr 15, 2021
|# ? Apr 14, 2021 23:49|
Thunderdome Week 453 Crits Part 2: Whoops, I forgot to crit crabrock.
A few issues with entering Week 453 stories into the archive
Story summary: A deranged PhD has way too much loving time on his hands and goes absolutely bonkers with the archive website, wreaking havoc and confusing everyone.
Crit: I don't know if you intentionally pandered this week very specifically to me or not - I DID talk a lot about Omega Mart in Discord recently, after all - but it loving worked. This weird ARG poo poo is like curlingiron catnip. I had the biggest loving grin on my face all weekend, which was quite a feat given that it was the end of spring break. Plus I got to learn Twine!
...but I still like Lisa more than you. 😈
|# ? Apr 15, 2021 00:10|
Walk log: 2mi yesterday, 3 today. I saw a treehouse and dog.
|# ? Apr 15, 2021 03:58|
How much does 12k on a bicycle get me?
|# ? Apr 16, 2021 05:12|
|# ? Jun 27, 2022 09:32|
How much does 12k on a bicycle get me?
20 minutes = 100 words
you know what's more awesome than looking at a pretty flower? A loving interactive flower. you get the dandelion, which is NOT a weed. Has any other flower ever brought a child more joy?
"Dandelion generally symbolizes happiness, joy and youthful thoughts, but can also symbolize health, power, perseverance, endurance and determination. It's also said to represent the sun's power, good wishes, hope and prosperity."
crabrock fucked around with this message at 06:51 on Apr 16, 2021
|# ? Apr 16, 2021 06:46|