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HiddenGecko
Apr 15, 2007

You think I'm really going
to read this shit?


http://www.shunn.net/format/story.html

In the future, if any of you plan on submitting stuff refer to the link I posted. Everything you submit MUST be in this format. No ifs, ands, or buts, they will throw your manuscript into the trash as fast as they can if you deviate from the standard manuscript format.

Just keep that in mind. The easiest way to clear out a slush pile is to trash the ones that are improperly formatted without even reading beyond the first page.


VVVV
Yep, full address, every time. How else are they going to know where to mail your check?

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

Canadian Surf Club
Feb 15, 2008

Word.


Is not including full physical address "going against formatting". For online submissions I usually just put name and email address there, hope that isn't an auto-toss.

Capntastic
Jan 13, 2005

A dog begins eating a dusty old coil of rope but there's a nail in it.

Fallen Rib

Black Griffon posted:



Capntastic
The point is that this took me a minute and half, regardless if it's an improvement or not. You have too many words. Dull

Yeah, I won't even blame this on my physical state at the time of writing, I have a tendency to get pretty wordy. Sometimes it works out for very specific, complex actions, but stuff like unpacking a box doesn't need that attention.

Martello
Apr 29, 2012

by XyloJW


Wow. This week was pretty righteous. Wish I'd had time and a computer to enter. Don't worry, children, I'll be back on the 18th with vengeance in my soul and a new appreciation for showers and moisture in the air.


There's no way Xander Stronach is a real name.

budgieinspector
Mar 24, 2006

According to my research,
these would appear to be
Budgerigars.



Jimson posted:

I'll have the pictures I took at the hospital uploaded tomorrow.

Jim-son! I want that cast to say "RAGGEDY MAN"! If it's gross, just send it to Griff; he'll get a kick out of looking at it while nursing his hangover.


Okay, first batch of cranky-rear end feedback:

Seldom Posts -- "Birds of a Feather"
You see that big block of italicized text? That's the story. The framing device is extraneous. Cut the fat and give your readers the meat. All of it. Every inch. Right there. Yes.


LordVonEarlDuke -- "Darcy and Lucy among the flowers"
Do you realize how close you were to winning this? Of course not. You just show up out of nowhere with some real, sho'nuff writing chops, and almost took home the gold.

Right up until you had them resurrecting an opossum.

Perhaps in hidsight, it might be clear why we were looking for stories based in the real world.

Also, capitalize your titles properly. You've got no excuse.


Bassetking -- "The Ones That Got Away. [Period. Full stop. For some reason, this piece of punctuation was important.]"
How the hell did you manage to take the prompt "Write about these twins" and skew it into "Write around these twins"? You could've done something like Clive Barker's "The Yattering and Jack"-meets-"Rumplestiltskin" with this story, making the mother the main character and building tension as the time to pay the awful price draws near. Instead, you chose to turn drama into bar-chat. You're not the only one who did this; you're just the one who used the twins' potential the least.

Permit me to "break it down", as the young people say:

Option 1: Write about a woman who's made a bad decision with huge consequences about to come due, or
Option 2: Have two characters talking about that woman after the fact.

Immediacy begets drama. Drama hooks readers.

Also, no apostrophe before "ya".


Chairchucker -- "Be Quiet"
On the plus side, you put the twins in the midst of a historical event which occurred in their lifetimes, and kept the action up. On the minus side, it's never made clear what they're doing in Vietnam.

Also, run a spell-check before submitting your stuff.


The Saddest Rhino -- "The Chance Meeting at the Backstage of the Apollo Theatre, Harlem NYC"
Good idea, clunky execution. "Even before she became 15, she had already known that she was adopted." Are you a native English speaker? Because the title and opening sentence are just off. Rewrite:

"A Chance Meeting (Backstage at the Apollo Theater)"

Even before she turned fifteen, she knew she was adopted.

There are plenty of other clunky sentences throughout. Running a grammar check might pinpoint a lot of them.

Also, did you intend for the twins to be white? Because not a lot of white folks played the Apollo, even in the mid-Sixties.


Jonked -- "The El Dorado Oracle"
Not bad. Although by the time JFK turned 43, he'd been campaigning for over five months. And he had brown hair, not black. And it's "drought", not "draught". Still, not bad.


Bad Seafood -- "Regular Earharts"
Cute. Nice characterization. Stumbled at "the cockpit had been enlarged, lengthened, made for two" -- lots of WWI-era planes had space for two, so it might've been better just to pick a model with this feature. No need to bunch up your dialogue when posting on a messageboard; it looks weird.


SurreptitiousMuffin -- "[redacted]"
I've read this three times, but I still don't get what's supposed to be happening. Kennedy's "big win" was in 1960. Even at the height of the McCarthy era, you didn't get thrown in jail just for being a communist -- an accusation could ruin your career and turn you into a social pariah overnight, sure, but not jail. And this is '62, by which time McCarthy had fallen. I just... don't get it.

Technically-speaking, there are a lot of little problems (spelling, grammar, a fluctuation between your natural use of 'inverted commas' to set off dialogue and the US "double-quotes" method) which I know you could've corrected with a spelling/grammar check. Also, and maybe it's just me, but a woman who grew up in Los Angeles and San Francisco probably wouldn't talk like a old-timey prospector.

You're a better writer than this.


Sitting Here -- "untitled"
Good. Solid. Agreed with Griff that it could use tightening. Kind of a FY;GM tang to the last dialogue exchange that didn't feel in-character.


toanoradian -- "What It Takes to be Mother"
You're doing a lot of tense-switching, here. You need to get a grip on that. Grammar-check your stuff, senor.

Some weird pseudo-pop-culture touchstones, here, ranging from the "huh?" (a butler on Superman?) to the bizarre (Drugnet, Hayridin' Hoff, White Children -- imagine a guy asked about his entertainment preferences: "Well, I'm really into White Children. Can't get enough White Children").

I can't tell if this is intentionally written in a disjointed manner in order to connote the narrator's breakdown, or not, but it's pretty difficult to follow along.


Fanky Malloons -- "I Think I'm Too Cool for Titles"
This is another poster child for Show-Don't-Tell. The framing device is not only unnecessary, but it actively sucks out the drama. Not only are you distancing the reader from the story's action by forty-eight years, but you barely get started before you have the guy flat-out announce that they conned him. I want to start in the middle of the action, feel the tension, then watch it all fall to poo poo, with the schmuck detective and the dumbass gangster left hanging in the wind.


Canadian Surf Club -- "To Depart and Be Apart"
Nice. Poignant. I wasn't able to divine the purpose of the last dialogue exchange, though:

"I'm not okay." She said and that's all she needed to say. [Eh? She states the obvious, but why? It just comes out of nowhere.]

"I'm sorry I shouldn-" [Shouldn't what?]

"You didn't fool me." [What sort of deceit is supposed to be at play, here?] She patted at her eyes with a napkin. "I just wanted to wait and see." [Again, "wait and see" what? Whether she'd be able to speak to her sister? Whether her illness would progress?]


swaziloo -- "1971"
Certainly a different direction, but fun. High price for rent, though.

toanoradian
May 30, 2011

The happiest waffligator


budgieinspector posted:

toanoradian -- "What It Takes to be Mother"
You're doing a lot of tense-switching, here. You need to get a grip on that. Grammar-check your stuff, senor.

Some weird pseudo-pop-culture touchstones, here, ranging from the "huh?" (a butler on Superman?) to the bizarre (Drugnet, Hayridin' Hoff, White Children -- imagine a guy asked about his entertainment preferences: "Well, I'm really into White Children. Can't get enough White Children").

I can't tell if this is intentionally written in a disjointed manner in order to connote the narrator's breakdown, or not, but it's pretty difficult to follow along.

On the grammar side, I blame nobody but myself. I am stupid.

On the pop-culture references side, they're all wrongly-named, to show that Lucy really can't remember her mother that well anyway. The only one with the correct name is Guiding Light, because that't the important soap opera.

'A butler on Superman' references a 1945 episode of The Adventures of Superman, in which the hero meets Batman and Robin.

'Drugnet' refers to Dragnet, the popular police show that starts as a radio show.

'Hayridin' Hoff' refers to Hoffman Hayride, which the real version of the twins starred in for a few times.

'White Children' is a combination of two soap operas, Today's Children and Woman in White. Those two soaps and Guiding Light is written by the same person.

Just for its own sake, 'Meet American Mercury' refers to Meet the Press' original title, American Mercury presents Meet the Press.

I had spent too much time looking at pop culture of the 1930s-50s to actually do work with my story. Sorry for that.

Bassetking
Feb 20, 2008

And it is, it is a glorious thing, to be a Basset King!


budgieinspector posted:


Bassetking -- "The Ones That Got Away. [Period. Full stop. For some reason, this piece of punctuation was important.]"
How the hell did you manage to take the prompt "Write about these twins" and skew it into "Write around these twins"? You could've done something like Clive Barker's "The Yattering and Jack"-meets-"Rumplestiltskin" with this story, making the mother the main character and building tension as the time to pay the awful price draws near. Instead, you chose to turn drama into bar-chat. You're not the only one who did this; you're just the one who used the twins' potential the least.

Permit me to "break it down", as the young people say:

Option 1: Write about a woman who's made a bad decision with huge consequences about to come due, or
Option 2: Have two characters talking about that woman after the fact.

Immediacy begets drama. Drama hooks readers.

Also, no apostrophe before "ya".


The idea of turning this into something closer to "Rumplestiltskin" rather than "Faust meets The Screwtape Letters at Callahans" really actually appeals to me. It took me most of the time of the prompt to come up with the story concept that I did, and, while I knew there was meat there somewhere, I couldn't get my teeth into it.

That idea really gives me some good thoughts on reworking what I managed to produce(Mother's Perspective? Make The Stranger into the twins father, then tell it from the mother's perspective/his perspective/family's perspective throughout the course of the pregnancy?, Tell it as in interaction between The Twins and Saint Peter?) and turn out a better product.

I also realize that like, three of the concepts I mentioned in "Reworking it to make a better product" still remove immediacy from the story; so your advice helps me to narrow down what revisions I do end up making.

Thank you.

budgieinspector
Mar 24, 2006

According to my research,
these would appear to be
Budgerigars.



toanoradian posted:

On the grammar side, I blame nobody but myself. I am stupid.

There shall be no self-flagellation in this thread unless the judges demand it!

quote:

'Drugnet' refers to Dragnet

'Hayridin' Hoff' refers to Hoffman Hayride

'White Children' is a combination of two soap operas, Today's Children and Woman in White.

No, I got the first two -- they're just bizarre in the context of American pop culture. To wit: Calling a Dragnet analogue "Drugnet" is weird on two fronts.

(1) A "dragnet" is an actual thing, a type of fishing net, and the existence of the object led to a particularly-intense police search being called a "dragnet"; a "drugnet" isn't a thing.

(2) Jack Webb had a sycophantic relationship with the LAPD, using the popularity of Dragnet to give positive press to the department and espouse the official police position on the scourge of be-boppin' reefer addicts and hopheads. So in this context, "drugnet" is amusing because it conjures an image of Sgt. Friday lugging a huge bag of confiscated dope (possibly for his own use).

Here is an artist's rendering:


"Hayridin' Hoff" is odd because (in American pop culture, at least) "Hoff" almost always is used as a nickname for Knight Rider star and professional cheeseball David Hasselhoff.

Bassetking
Feb 20, 2008

And it is, it is a glorious thing, to be a Basset King!


budgieinspector posted:

(2) Jack Webb had a sycophantic relationship with the LAPD, using the popularity of Dragnet to give positive press to the department and espouse the official police position on the scourge of be-boppin' reefer addicts and hopheads. So in this context, "drugnet" is amusing because it conjures an image of Sgt. Friday lugging a huge bag of confiscated dope (possibly for his own use).

"Ladies and Gentlemen, the story you are about to hear is true. The names have been changed to protect the innocent. It was at Barstow, on the edge of the desert, when the drugs began to take hold..."

quote:

"Hayridin' Hoff" is odd because (in American pop culture, at least) "Hoff" almost always is used as a nickname for Knight Rider star and professional cheeseball David Hasselhoff.

I would watch the hell out of a show where David Hasselhoff is humiliated in country-western themes.

Black Griffon
Mar 12, 2005

Now, in the quantum moment before the closure, when all become one. One moment left. One point of space and time. I know who you are.

You are destiny.


Thunderdome Week IX: Old Sex/Lawn Sounds

Judges: Black Griffon, budgieinspector, Y Kant Ozma Post.

Alright dipshits, time to get this show on the road.

Prompt: Write an espionage tale where the youngest character is a septuagenarian. Must include a love interest.

We don't give a poo poo if it's in the style of Bond, Bourne or loving biblical, but young people are terrible. gently caress 'em.

One character under seventy this week, and we'll bolt your worthless rear end to the bottom of a truck and go off-road.

Length: 1000 words or fewer.
Signup Deadline: Thursday, Oct. 4, 1:00 AM PDT
Submission Deadline: Saturday, Oct. 6, 1:00 AM PDT

Special Rule for Special Dipshits

This time around, we won't hold your hand and lead you to water, but if you can give us proof you've sent the story to any publisher on Duotrope, there'll be extra points.

Get to it.

List of gently caress:
toanoradian
The Saddest Rhino
Noah
Zack_Gochuck
Sitting Here
HiddenGecko
swaziloo
Canadian Surf Club
The Swinemaster
areyoucontagious
BirdOfPlay
Dr. Kloctopussy
Bad Seafood
Capntastic
dromer
sebmojo
justcola

toanoradian
May 30, 2011

The happiest waffligator


Put me in, I can't escape.

'Love interests' doesn't have to be unrequited lovers, right?

edit: dammit, Hitler dies at 46.

The Saddest Rhino
Apr 29, 2009

I could hear the roots of loneliness creeping through me when the world was hushed at four o'clock in the morning


Black Griffon posted:

The Saddest Rhino
Gimmick is predictable, but it works and I like it. They left and returned though, "started to leave" is clumsy, and I mention it because it's a pretty important pair of lines. Fun.

budgieinspector posted:

The Saddest Rhino -- "The Chance Meeting at the Backstage of the Apollo Theatre, Harlem NYC"
Good idea, clunky execution. "Even before she became 15, she had already known that she was adopted." Are you a native English speaker? Because the title and opening sentence are just off. Rewrite:

"A Chance Meeting (Backstage at the Apollo Theater)"

Even before she turned fifteen, she knew she was adopted.

There are plenty of other clunky sentences throughout. Running a grammar check might pinpoint a lot of them.

Also, did you intend for the twins to be white? Because not a lot of white folks played the Apollo, even in the mid-Sixties.

Wow, thanks, guys. Yeah, I'm not a native speaker, but I don't see it as an excuse for the clunkiness of the language used which you both picked up on. I need to really brush up on that, and unfortunately this time I spent way too much on dealing with the gimmick rather than polishing the language so victim of my own hubris etc. Also yes, the girls are supposed to be black (ignoring the fact that I completely forgot about how difficult it probably is for black girls to be adopted in that era).

Black Griffon posted:

Thunderdome Week IX: Old Sex/Lawn Sounds

Prompt: Write an espionage tale where the youngest character is a septuagenarian. Must include a love interest.


Oh god I'm in

Noah
May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch


I'm in.

Zack_Gochuck
Jan 3, 2007

Stupid Wrestling People


I am in.

Chairchucker
Nov 14, 2006

The man was stunningly well dressed. He had a smart looking jacket, and a really neat looking cape, the lining of which was shimmering and sparkling in more than Oriental splendour, which is a great deal of splendour indeed, just ask Kipling.

budgieinspector posted:


Chairchucker -- "Be Quiet"
On the plus side, you put the twins in the midst of a historical event which occurred in their lifetimes, and kept the action up. On the minus side, it's never made clear what they're doing in Vietnam.

Killing commies, obviously! There was gonna be some ridiculous exposition about them posing as dudes to join the military, (their guy names were gonna be Luke and either Drake or Derek) but then Wikipedia told me that there were a bunch of ladies serving overseas in combatish roles at the time anyway. Also I was dumb and started my story at like 11 pm the night before it was due.

budgieinspector posted:

Also, run a spell-check before submitting your stuff.


Bah, hyphens schmyphens.

toanoradian posted:


edit: dammit, Hitler dies at 46.

OR DOES HE?

Not in this week.

Zack_Gochuck
Jan 3, 2007

Stupid Wrestling People


Here's my submission:
---
Mush

Dick looked at the pile of corn-mush on his plate. He once chewed through a rope around his wrists while he hung upside down by his feet in Vietnam. Another time, he tore out a KGB agent’s colon with nothing but his teeth and a can of shoe blackening. Now they wouldn’t let him eat real corn. Too hard on the digestive system. Richard Davis. Korean War veteran. CIA special agent. Old man in Crooked Oaks Retirement Home who wasn’t allowed to eat corn or nuts. He poked at his corn-mush with a fork.

He looked up. Barbra passed in her wheel chair, oxygen tank hanging on the back. The breathing tube snaked down into her lap, up her chest, between her sagging breasts and into a hole in her throat. Dick didn’t usually go for older women, but god drat she could wear that tube. He wanted to start at the tank, lick the length of the tube right up to Barbra’s face and deeply, passionately kiss those grey wrinkled lips. Leave her so breathless she’d need two tanks of oxygen to recover.

“Hey there, good lookin’.” Howard tipped his cowboy hat, put his hands on his hips and smiled so widely that he had two sets of crow’s feet, “You here to visit your grandmother?”

Barbra giggled, then coughed, then tried to catch her breath, “Howard, you are the devil.”

“Well ma’am, I’ll tell you what I used to tell folks down at the used car lot,” he gestured toward himself, “You take this baby for a ride and I guarantee you’ll never know how you ever did without.”

Dick spit a mouthful of mush back onto his lunch-tray and tossed it in the trash. Howard thought he was such a big shot because he still had both his original hips. He had to be hiding something. Everyone has something. A deep dark secret. A skeleton in the closet. He broke into the Kremlin with a spool of thread; he could break into Howard’s room and find out what made him tick. Something to keep him away from Barbra.

Dick went back to his room. He locked the door. He stood on a chair on top of his bed. He steadied himself and carefully popped out the ceiling tile. There was an old wooden beam running through the ceiling. Perfect. His shoulders popped and cracked as he pulled himself up. All the dust made it hard to breath. He coughed and pulled his shirt up over his nose. Howard’s room was three down from Dick’s. He shimmied along the beam until he thought he was over Howard’s room. He moved the ceiling tile and poked his head through. The telltale smell of cheap cologne and worn leather wafted through the air. He began to lower himself but his right shoulder gave out and he landed on the bed. A sharp pain shot up and down his legs and back. He winced.

Someone was outside the door. They jiggled the knob. Dick rolled off the bed and landed on the floor. His artificial hip snapped like a wishbone. He bit his hand so that he wouldn’t swear in pain. Howard wheeled Barbara into the room. They didn’t see him. He lay there like a pile of corn-mush.

Howard hung his cowboy hat on the foot of the bed, “So miss, how ‘bout that test-drive?”

Barbara opened her mouth and Howard slowly removed her false teeth.
---

For extra points, I submitted it to this reputable looking publication:

https://duotrope.com/market_4134.aspx


Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

Count me in. It's my birthday this week though so the final product might be simply the impact of my vomit hitting the keyboard.

Tonsured
Jan 13, 2005

I came across mention of a Gnostic codex called The Unreal God and the Aspects of His Nonexistent Universe, an idea which reduced me to helpless laughter. What kind of person would write about something that he knows doesn't exist, and how can something that doesn't exist have aspects?

Is a sexagenarian too young? I mean 69 has to be close enough right???

Black Griffon
Mar 12, 2005

Now, in the quantum moment before the closure, when all become one. One moment left. One point of space and time. I know who you are.

You are destiny.


Tonsured posted:

Is a sexagenarian too young? I mean 69 has to be close enough right???

I will rip your loving throat out.

HiddenGecko
Apr 15, 2007

You think I'm really going
to read this shit?


In.

swaziloo
Aug 29, 2012


I realize I'm in no way authorized to make demands, but if anyone plans to write (another of) these cliches, you better be certain it does not suck:

* A bunch of retirees concoct/recount/forget some scheme to get the pills/cake/sex in their retirement home.

* In the future/alternate universe/parallel dimension everyone lives to be two hundred years old, and their habitat/spaceship/shire faces a dire threat.


And, I'm in.


ed: Emphasis added.

budgieinspector
Mar 24, 2006

According to my research,
these would appear to be
Budgerigars.



swaziloo posted:

I realize I'm in no way authorized to make demands, but if anyone plans to write (another of) these cliches, you better be certain it does not suck:

[...]

* In the future/alternate universe/parallel dimension everyone lives to be two hundred years old , and their habitat/spaceship/shire faces a dire threat.

That's a cliche?

How the gently caress have I managed to miss this particular scenario being run into the ground?

Canadian Surf Club
Feb 15, 2008

Word.


Yeah I'm in

The Swinemaster
Dec 28, 2005



I'm joining these shenanigans.

areyoucontagious
Jun 13, 2007

Hell is other people.


I'm back, bitches. Time to rock out this old-timer gold.

BirdOfPlay
Feb 19, 2012

THUNDERDOME LOSER

After shaming myself a couple of weeks ago, I'm back in. And yes, I'll write something.

Dr. Kloctopussy
Apr 22, 2003


After two terrible weeks in a row, perhaps I can redeem myself. Or continue to be terrible. You know, which ever.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


I'm on board, but probably for the last time in awhile.

budgieinspector posted:

That's a cliche?

How the gently caress have I managed to miss this particular scenario being run into the ground?
I think it's more the part where everyone's over seventy but it turns out that's just the new thirty. So they're old, but not really old. A technicality.

See also, thousand-year-old vampire little girls. Completely legit, you guys.

Capntastic
Jan 13, 2005

A dog begins eating a dusty old coil of rope but there's a nail in it.

Fallen Rib

In it, of course.

Old people are cool.

Black Griffon
Mar 12, 2005

Now, in the quantum moment before the closure, when all become one. One moment left. One point of space and time. I know who you are.

You are destiny.


Fourteen so far. What the gently caress is wrong with you people?

dromer
Aug 19, 2012

THUNDERDOME LOSER

I'm in. I assume that flashbacks are off limits?

areyoucontagious
Jun 13, 2007

Hell is other people.


dromer posted:

I'm in. I assume that flashbacks are off limits?

Oh gently caress you. tt

Canadian Surf Club
Feb 15, 2008

Word.


Record time for me

WALTHEN - 902 words

"If you go digging into history you'll end up tripping and falling in."

"Would that make it a grave?"

They both laughed and Walter offered Enoch some more whiskey which he gladly accepted from his wheelchair. He poured under the light of the small desk lamp they sat by for it was past the sleeping hour and all the lights in the Berlin home were dark. Enoch lived in the room next door and had made it a tradition to come share an after hour drink whenever he or Walter could sneak in a bottle.

"Take a look at that." Walter was rummaging through an old Cold War shoebox he'd left in his closet and had now found a photo which he handed to his friend.

It showed a young woman smiling in dust stained sepia tone with big doe eyes and hair of white golden curls and and lips so red they came out black, their true shade lost to all knowledge.

"Mrs. Walter?"

"Ah no, the one that flew away."

"Was that your spy name?" Enoch pointed to some words in cursive on the back, 'to WALTHEN'.

"Maybe, maybe she thought it was, I can't remember." Walter drank and found an envelope. "She left something with it, in code." He pulled the letter half way out but stopped then slipped it back in. "Never could figure the drat thing out."

"For some other schmuck then, this Walthen."

Walter smiled and took the photo back and set it aside. "Now this," he pulled out a medal of red and white with the hammer and sickle set in the center, "this they sent me after I caught their spy and traded him back. Had no family, they said, so you keep it." He handed it to Enoch who turned it in his fingers.

"Did they say what it was for?"

"No, I tossed it, forgot it." Walter ran a hand down his stubble. "But you know who would know..." He pulled a cigarette pack from the shoebox and clicked on a butt sticking above the others. There was a low buzz and he let go of the button and replaced it in the box.

"Who?"

"Sergei from upstairs, he should be coming."

Enoch didn't hide his surprise. "But all the doors are locked. The staff will spot him."

"He was with intelligence, he will get through."

"So you were with him then?"

"No." Walter topped off his own drink. "Against."


They made guesses about the medal for a while each more wild than the last until Sergei slipped in, his entrance a surprise even to those expecting him. He sat beside Walter on his cot and looked at the medal.

"Twenty years of excellent military service." He declared. "But not the military you think."

"I was hoping I caught a hero of the union." Walter said as he set it back in the shoebox and poured a third drink.

"No hero of the union was ever caught." Sergei saw he had nearly sat on a photo and he picked it up and his face sagged like an old mask when he looked at it. "Who is this?"

"A girl I knew, from the city." Walter said.

"Hey you're not Walthen are you?" Enoch said but his chortle laughter was choked out by the dead silence of the room, Walter's eyes flitting over the Russian's every tick and hesitation.

Sergei flipped the photo in his hand. "This word, an old cipher, Walthen, one of many we used."

"What was her name?"

"Izolda, I brought her to Berlin." He exhaled and chewed at the corner of his lip. "And I sent her back."

Walter's fingers had forgotten his glass and curled back around the letter. He handed it to Sergei and together they started from the top, Walter writing to Sergei's instruction and slowly a confession appeared before his eyes and when he came upon the word double Walter tossed the pen aside, unable to continue. He shook with an inner turmoil but there was no strength to him anymore so he only looked sad and weak clutching the edge of his cot.

"What happened to her?"

"There was no way to know."

Walter shot up, sending the shoebox tumbling over and scattering its contents around the room. He asked them to leave and Enoch averted his gaze as he wheeled backwards into the hall with Sergei's help. By the next hour all three drinks were gone and so was the rest of the bottle and Walter was on the floor collecting those things which should have stayed in the closet like he said. The last item was a long yellow pencil with a needle point tip which had rolled under his desk and when he retrieved it he paused and gently pressed on the eraser and as he did a clear liquid welled at the lead tip.

The next day everything was fine and nothing was different but the next night Sergei died in his sleep sometime after lights out. The coroner deemed it a heart attack and joked that it was a drat shame; the Russian had been in good health for his age besides a bad liver and a mosquito bite on his neck. Back at his desk he scribbled out natural causes in the file with a flourish from his new blue pen, its true shade lost to all knowledge.

###

Submitted to a place found on Duotrope http://www.themysteryplace.com/eqmm/

budgieinspector
Mar 24, 2006

According to my research,
these would appear to be
Budgerigars.



Cranky Feedback, Part the Second:

HiddenGecko -- "Demi Lune Dirge"
Was wondering who the first person would be to use "twin language". Good job, but the ending seems abrupt and raises more questions. Is unnamed sister #1 killing unnamed sister #2 because she wants to release her, or because she wants the tables? Is this a murder/suicide? Perhaps a bit more clarification would be useful.


Autumncomet -- "October Sorrows"
Nice. A period piece that feels in-the-moment. Points for using the Paris Massacre as a backdrop.


Wrageowrapper -- "Beatnik Roadtrip"
There's just... not enough here to go on. Could've been good, could've made me want to kick a puppy; the world may never know.

Capntastic -- "Modern Appliances, 1946"
Dude, tighten yo poo poo. You can't ignore the "flash fiction" aspect of the 'Dome. It's right up there in the title.

Since Griff already took you to task for that, though, let me pick something else: Dialogue. Learn it, love it, use it. Let your characters communicate with each other. Studies have shown that alternating between text and dialogue leads to readers sympathizing with your characters, which leads to a more enjoyable reading experience, which leads to more indecent proposals for the author.


Noah -- "Never Wanted Twins"
I dug the idea of mid-fifties organ harvesting, and of the twins' mom being a distaff Vandal Savage. Solid writing. Good job.


sebmojo -- "Road Trip"
I can't put my finger on why this didn't grab me. It's cleanly written and involves lesser-known mythology; two things I enjoy. I just couldn't get invested in the characters and didn't get any sense of mounting tension prior to the... "reveal", I suppose? Although it's not really a revelation, more like the beginning of a mystery which ends abruptly a couple paragraphs later. I wish I could give you something more solid to go on, but that's all I've got.


Dr. Kloctopussy -- "I Eschew Titles for Jesus [Darcy and Lucy: Sex Assassins]"
There's an "I", there's a "Lucy" and there's a "Darcy"... and all three are twins. "I" is sometimes "Not-Lucy" and sometimes "Not-Darcy", which leads me to question whether "I" is actually supposed to be any of them, all of them, or if there even are twins. This got in the way of my reading about twins who kill with a magical sex curse, so I can't tell if I'm angry about that or glad.


Y Kant Ozma Post -- "The Last Postcard"
Brief 'n' creepy psycho-biddy goodness. A snapshot from a petty power struggle which we just know won't end well. Good stuff.

Dr. Kloctopussy
Apr 22, 2003


budgieinspector posted:


Dr. Kloctopussy -- "I Eschew Titles for Jesus [Darcy and Lucy: Sex Assassins]"
There's an "I", there's a "Lucy" and there's a "Darcy"... and all three are twins. "I" is sometimes "Not-Lucy" and sometimes "Not-Darcy", which leads me to question whether "I" is actually supposed to be any of them, all of them, or if there even are twins. This got in the way of my reading about twins who kill with a magical sex curse, so I can't tell if I'm angry about that or glad.

I was trying to write it with both of them narrating, usually together (we), but occasionally each individually. Sort of like if they were telling someone the story. It obviously did not work out!!

dreadmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk

budgieinspector posted:

Cranky Feedback, Part the Second:

sebmojo -- "Road Trip"
I can't put my finger on why this didn't grab me. It's cleanly written and involves lesser-known mythology; two things I enjoy. I just couldn't get invested in the characters and didn't get any sense of mounting tension prior to the... "reveal", I suppose? Although it's not really a revelation, more like the beginning of a mystery which ends abruptly a couple paragraphs later. I wish I could give you something more solid to go on, but

That's fine, I think I agree. It came really hard so I was just glad to get something down, with three minutes on the clock.

While there were a bunch of small improvements I made before submitting it to that website (including changing the name to 'the house of the spider woman', which is way better IMO) this ultimately doesn't earn the heightened mythic tone it aims for at the end.

Oh, and in.

Fanky Malloons
Aug 21, 2010

Is your social worker inside that horse?


I'm just going to watch sadly from the sideline this week because I slacked off on a bunch of poo poo last week when I was sick, so now I have to catch up with myself. Barf.

Also, I fully expected to lose last week, and am quite surprised that I didn't

areyoucontagious
Jun 13, 2007

Hell is other people.


A Bitter Heart -- 562 words

The soft hiss of the respirator was the only sound to break the silence of the room. Antonio sat near the bed, monitoring the rise and fall of the woman’s chest. Her living will gave thirty days for improvement, and time was running out. Antonio sat, wanting to ensure that he was there for when she woke up or when the time came to turn off the machines.

Antonio brushed a hand across her lined face, murmuring his love softly. He wheeled his chair closer, moving her bangs from her eyes. He made sure her pillow was not too flat, and finally strained up out of the chair on feeble arms to peck her on the cheek.

“Found you, bastard.” The wheezing, phlegm-filled voice startled Antonio. The Brit standing in the corner, despite the 65 years that had passed, was instantly recognizable.

“Bear. I didn’t think I’d see you again.” Antonio gripped the arms of his wheelchair tightly, partly out of fear, but he was also angry at this trespass. He had a gun strapped to his shin, but getting to it would likely result in Bear shooting him first.

“Easier to remember codenames after all these years, eh?” Bear drew a weathered pistol from a coat pocket. “Still works, I tested it before I came here. I thought it would be appropriate, killing you with my standard issue from back in the war.”

“How did you find us?”

“She called me about a year ago, to tell me about the cancer. She even told me the aliases you two were using, Antonio. Interesting choice. A Russian named Ruby and a German named Antonio. I suppose since you fled to Brazil you thought you were being clever?”

“What do you want, Bear, get to the point. Why are you doing this? We’re both old men, there’s no point to this.”

“And that’s where you’re wrong, mate. You killed a lot of my chums back in Europe, and more importantly you stole Lyudmila from me. She was mine, Rolf! We were in love, dammit!”

“Bear, that was a long time ago. I had no idea. I was doing the same thing you were, doing my duty for my country. It was coincidence I met her at the bar. She was waiting for you! I was just there to meet my contact.”

“I was planning on taking her back to London after the war. I had the money, and she wasn’t going to take any more missions! And then you dragged her into whatever scheme you hatched. I don’t know how you convinced her.” Bear sat down heavily onto a nearby chair. His breath was labored as he struggled through his speech.
“You stole her, you thieving bastard. And now I’ve come to take her back and dole out justice. Nuremburg might have missed you, but I won’t.” Bear’s arthritic knees popped as he wobbled to his feet. He smashed his gun into Antonio’s face, causing the withered German ex-spy to cry out in pain.

“I still love her, Rolf. That’s why this pains me. I love her as much as I hate her.” Bear turned off Lyudmila’s respirator. Antonio cried out once more, but couldn’t do anything from the confines of his chair.

Bear’s hands shook as he wrenched the hammer back on his revolver. “Die, you Nazi bastard. I’ll see you in hell.”

areyoucontagious
Jun 13, 2007

Hell is other people.


Double posting to avoid an edit on my previous post (please don't probate me!):



Story submitted, an extra point for me!

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The Swinemaster
Dec 28, 2005



Tugnok and the Rusty Scissors ~900 words

The remnants of the tribe were digging under the wet rot of a fallen tree. The loamy earth underneath stank of stagnation, and was ripe with juicy grubs. Gurd seized one, and brought it to his toothless mouth. He gummed it carefully while he kept digging, his wrinkled lips pursed to keep the fluids in. He hadn’t tasted hot meat for many summers, but had grown to appreciate the grubs.

Next to Gurd was Oyen, the wizened crone. Beyond her, Tugnok squatted on his heels, his heavy trunk legs undiminished by age, and his head full of shaggy white hair. They paid no mind as a gentle rain began to fall on their bare backs, and Gurd’s bare head. The only sound was gentle sucking of flesh on flesh and soft shifting of earth.

Gurd dug again into the dirt, piercing the lower, heavier soil with his long fingernails. A flash of white showed him the end of a retreating worm. He dug faster, following it down and to the left. Too slow.

He reached down again, and felt a hard object below. It felt not like a rock, a stick, or bone. With both hands, he cupped away the damp soil. He withdrew an object. It was the size of a man’s head, but flat on all sides. It was light, and when he rubbed a spot clean and licked it, it tasted slightly of blood.

As he turned the object, one side swung open and something within fell to the ground. Gurd put the first object aside, and leant over the fallen thing.

“Eh?” said Tugnok, reaching past Gurd and taking the object in his gnarled hands. It had two long thin points, and two ends that were softer and curled in on themselves. “Eh?”

Gurd pointed to the opened object and the hole from which it had come, but Tugnok was already walking away with the sharp thing. He was turning it over in his hands, putting his dirty fingers through the holes, and caressing the thin extensions. It shone faintly, even in the drizzle and gray light. Tugnok shifted his hands and the points came apart, like Oyen’s legs at nighttime many years ago. Gurd watched Tugnok, his mouth pinched, until he dropped back to the earth to viciously tear and scrape.

Later, Gurd went to Oyen when Tugnok was making his dirty waters. He touched her shoulders, and stroked her straw hair. She turned her head to one side and let him pick out the nits.

“Oyen Gurd?” he said.

“Ah?”

“Oyen Gurd?”

She pulled away. “Oyen Tugnok.” Her eyes wide now, “Tugnok.”

Gurd reached for her hair again, but she turned to tear branches from a near sapling.

“Oyen Gurd,” he said quietly. A small wind was bringing the smell of Tugnok’s dirty waters to him. “Oyen Gurd. Tha Gurd.” He looked at his hand as he bent his fingers into crooks and pincers. His brow furrowed.

Back at the soil, Gurd’s hands were bloody where his nails were pulling away from the skin. He looked up at the sound of a pecking bird. But it was Tugnok. He had the new thing in his hands and was using it to make a big hole in a tree. Tugnok reached in and withdrew a handful of beetles. Oyen went to him then, hooting and smiling. Tugnok smiled and handed her some.

Well past dark, Gurd watched the others as they huddled in their cold stone outcropping. Branches loosely covered the hard packed ground, and Gurd itched at bites from the insects that lived within. The other two were asleep, arms around one another and breathing warmth onto their skin. Gurd stared at the thing he found, where it sat beside Tugnok. He stood with creaking knees, and went to the clearing beyond their shelter.

Rheumy eyes peered to the ground, and he walked with his head down. From time to time he stretched a withered arm, until he had selected a dozen long stones. He spread them out, and put them aside one by one until just two remained. From a tree he peeled a strip of curling bark. With a tree’s sap and the sticky leavings of a goose, he mashed the pieces together, pinching the middle to solidify the hold. He clenched the construction tight until the moon dipped below the tree line. Finally he opened his grasp, and saw that the hold was strong.

Shuffling quietly, Gurd went to where the two slept. On his heels, he reached over and picked up the new thing he found, putting in its place his stone and wood facsimile. He pushed his fingers through the holes, and experimented with weight and size of the thing. The long points were very cold to his skin.

**

In the morning, Tugnok did not wake up. Oyen shook him and wailed, but did not see the small line of blood where the sharp thing had gone in his ear. She and Gurd took his body, struggling and resting often, to the rocky pit where the others had been left. A few dirty bones were all that indicated the other tribesmen. Oyen took the thing that Gurd had made and they buried it far from their shelter, so its evil would not touch them anymore.

“Oyen Gurd,” he said to her tears, when they returned. He would admire his new thing in the moonlight.

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