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twinkle cave
Dec 20, 2012


Martello posted:

Since nobody stepped up I figured gently caress it

Boom



Good fragment, but I question the idea of Texas ever having suicide bombers. It doesn't seem like it fits their big hat big boots thing.

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Noah
May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch


sebmojo posted:

:siren:THUNDERBRAWL FINAL ROUND PROMPT:siren:

Prompt:
In a bar, at the end of the world. Three people, three sets of secrets. What happens?

Constraint: No one dies. Nothing earlier than the 20th Century.

Up to 1000 words, due 2400 EST.

I've enjoyed doing this face off, even though I wasn't really in it. I wouldn't mind doing more of these in the future. The lack of ramifications is nice, though. I also wish I had more words to play with this one. It just kept wanting more.


It might be warm, but at least it's free

words: 984

Ben-G weaved his way past broken pallets, dumpsters with trash all around them and stray animals. Everything was tinted red by the sky. No day, no night, just redness. Ben-G wondered if the atmosphere would ever stop burning.

Cars puttered by on the street. They moved slowly to avoid any of the trash that couldn’t be run over and other broken down cars. Impending doom hadn’t caused the destruction of civilization. Like a candle burning down to the puddle of wax it had created for itself, wondering what happens next.

Plopped in the center of a strip-mall, Booker’s Pool-Hall and Pub stood still lit. Ben-G put his hands on his hips and stared. Just like he had remembered it for his 10 year high school reunion. Nothing had changed in the last 10 years, save for a mildly thicker coat of black dirt and soot.

Ben twirled a pill bottle in his jacket pocket. He took out the bottle and looked at his wife’s name across the label. Popping off the lid, he dry swallowed the last pill on his regiment, despite not having symptoms for the last two days. Three pills still left in the bottle.

Stepping inside was a blast of nostalgia. For the most part, the business had been kept in working condition. Patrons, though fewer than normal, sat at still functioning tables and booths.

“A beer please,” Ben asked the bartender. A balding, wiry man gave him a once over.

”You one of them splicer freaks?” Ben could smell the apprehension in the man’s breath, even a dozen feet away. The stink of fear revolted him.

“What? You think I’d show my face around here if I was?” The bartended thought for a moment and nodded.

“It’s a little warm, s’alright?”

Ben shrugged. The bartender pulled a bottle from under the counter. Ben made to put some cash on the bar, but the man shrugged.

“gently caress if I care, chummer. poo poo’s hosed anyhow.” Ben nodded. poo poo was hosed.

Spying two of his old highschool buddies in the corner of the bar, he waved at them and wandered over. Mort and Phin, two nerds in highschool, two dorks in college, and then turned into two brilliant scientists, while Ben had just been an office drone. He was jealous of natural talent.

Mort patted him on the shoulder as he sat down.

“Hey buddy, been awhile,” Mort said.

“Did Judy—“ Phin said.

Ben-G shook his head. “She didn’t make it. We ran out of medicine.” Three pills felt heavy against his side. Imagining the pocket sagging, and dragging on the ground, Ben put his hand in the pocket. Nervously he twisted the pill bottle over and over, feeling the vibrations of the pills rattle the plastic. Three left-over pills, would they have really made the difference, he thought. She was a goner, anyway.

The other two nodded. They weren’t surprised. Loss was never a surprise.

“I don’t think anyone else is going to make it,” Mort said. Phin and Ben nodded. They raised their glasses and clinked.

“To the class of ’20!”

Ben motioned to the bartender to bring over their 6th round.

“End of the world, still can’t fuckin’ believe it,” Mort said. “Who ever would have thought it’d take so god drat long.”

“I did it,” Phin said. “Me.”

“What are you talking about,” Mort said.

“Everything,” Phin laughed. He thrust out a thumb pointing to his chest.

Mort and Ben-G put down their beers and looked at Phin. Ben could feel heat coming from Phin’s armpits and palms. Salty perspiration and dust clouded Ben’s nose and tongue. Too many pheromones to sort out, he needed a re-adjustment that would never come.

“I don’t…Why Phin? What?” Ben-G said. Saliva dripped from the back of Ben’s molars. He took a hard swallow.

“I was trying to help,” Phin said. “We tried to open a wormhole, to suck the asteroid into, but—well it didn’t work.”

“What asteroid?” Mort said. “There was no asteroid, what are you talking about?”

Phin flushed red. “Well, you see, uh it was—classified.” Phin waved his hand in a circular motion. “Why tell the whole world we’re all doomed? What good would that do?”

All three sat back and thought. I could have gotten more medicine, Ben-G thought. Enough for both of us.

“That’s bullshit, that’s not how it happened, you’re talking out of your rear end,” Mort said.

“How the hell would you know, you’re so arm deep in some poor son of a bitch making him a god drat dog or something,” Phin said slamming his hand on the table. “I’m the god drat engineer, you’re just some, some, fuckin’ Frankenstein.”

“You think you’re so god drat smart,” Mort started shouting. Ben sank in his chair. One-ups-manship was just a thing these two idiots did. He thought about his wife, sleeping in bed. He remembered how the virus felt, swelling his neck and jaw muscles, threatening to strangle him. Only enough pills for one person, he remembered thinking as he played with the bottle in his pocket.

“The only reason why we ever started splicing was so we could splice our genes with a loving alien. And guess who found out,” Mort screamed. He made an eerie, hollow whirling noise and pointed at the sky. “They weren’t too happy about that one.”

Ben-G could taste the sweat as it exuded from Phin. A miasma of body odor, shame and fear made his eyes water. Phin’s face reddened and he put his chin against his chest.

“You’re pathetic,” Mort said. Mort turned sideways and threw an arm over the back of his chair. “So now what?”

“We drink our beer, wait for this whole candle to burn out, and we toast to a better reunion than last time,” Ben said.

“To the class of fuckin ’20.” Three bottles clinked and they all sat in silence.

twinkle cave
Dec 20, 2012


sebmojo posted:

:siren:THUNDERBRAWL FINAL ROUND PROMPT:siren:

Prompt:
In a bar, at the end of the world. Three people, three sets of secrets. What happens?

Constraint: No one dies. Nothing earlier than the 20th Century.

Up to 1000 words, due 2400 EST.

Just a warning. I don't know what time it is where you're at, but this thing is going to be late as poo poo.

Martello
Apr 29, 2012

by XyloJW


twinkle cave posted:

Good fragment, but I question the idea of Texas ever having suicide bombers. It doesn't seem like it fits their big hat big boots thing.

well the writer broad said they didn't use suicide bombers so idg what you mean maybe your reading comprehension needs work

also my piece will be on time as poo poo so lol

twinkle cave
Dec 20, 2012


Martello posted:

well the writer broad said they didn't use suicide bombers so idg what you mean maybe your reading comprehension needs work

also my piece will be on time as poo poo so lol

"Yet"

Martello
Apr 29, 2012

by XyloJW



I know, I was just being a horrible dick. Maybe she's a stupid Albertian (lol Stuporstar) and doesn't know that no Texan would ever kill himself for a cause? Get killed at the Alamo, yeah, but not blow up his cowboy rear end.

Martello
Apr 29, 2012

by XyloJW


Redacted

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk









Time is up. Assuming twinkle cave doesn't take too crazy long, I'm going to trade Martello ignoring the dialogue constraint in the last round against twinkle cave being late in this one, so it'll come down to the actual stories as is meet and loving proper.

Crits and final judgment later tonight.

twinkle cave
Dec 20, 2012


sebmojo posted:

Time is up. Assuming twinkle cave doesn't take too crazy long, I'm going to trade Martello ignoring the dialogue constraint in the last round against twinkle cave being late in this one, so it'll come down to the actual stories as is meet and loving proper.

Crits and final judgment later tonight.

I hate my parents for ever having sex at this moment. Martello, that sneaky goon, sent a mole over to distract me!

Cross Examination

"Why have you come here?" asked the man at the table.

"We need a place to hide for the night," Jack said spitting on the floor.

"You'll have to leave your weapons with me."

"The hell we will, then you'll have all the guns," replied Ken.

The man at the table scooted his chair back and stood. "Then by all means keep them."

"That was a little too easy," said Jack, "what are you hiding?"

"Hiding? There's nothing left to hide from." The man filled a glass with water and took a drink. "My name is Luke. I'm the person still alive in this city."

"Except us."

"Of course." At this he jammed his hands in his pockets and left the room. At the edge of earshot, he said, "Stay as long as you want."

The two men sat down and began a game of cards. "Think they got anything to drink?"
"Hell Kenny boy, I'm just glad they have water."

"You loose again buddy," Jack said.

"Ah drat, it's just not the same when there's no money on the line," Ken complained, "Let's check out the basement, see what he's got hidden."

The men crept downstairs until they saw a long line of casks.

"Let's open one up." Ken said.

"We better ask first," Jack replied. "I'm sure he'll share."

"Yes, you better ask." The man came from the other side of the room. "But yes, you may have some." Pouring a glass he offered it to them.

The two men shared it between them. "Tastes pretty good."

"Yes, it's aged to perfection."

"I'm not feeling too good," Ken said.

"That's because that's not whiskey at all," said the man, "you're going to go to sleep now."

"Nah, we never sleep," Ken said, "we're not really human."

"Well, he is sorta," Jack said, "He's kinda undead."

"Haha, me too," the man said, "I was going to kill you just for the fun of it. Visitors are such a bother." He paused and looked at Jack, "So what are you then?"

Ken interrupted, "Oh I'm his pet. He uses me to attract other undead."

"Most interesting," the man said. "Well, here I am."

"Yeah, he eats them."

The man gave a look of fear.

"Sorry, but I'm a genetically engineered ultra. It's my job to re-kill and eat you."

The man tried to run, but Jack caught him up. His jaw shape shifted and he started to gobble him down like a python. Just as his head was between Jack's teeth the man let out a large laugh, "Thank you, I'm been needing a place to lay my eggs for some time."

Martello
Apr 29, 2012

by XyloJW


Oh and also I forgot to mention it in my story but Dr. Fushida's first name is Erik. :smug:

Erik Shawn-Bohner
Mar 21, 2010

by XyloJW


Martello posted:

Oh and also I forgot to mention it in my story but Dr. Fushida's first name is Erik. :smug:

Hi, I forgot to write it because it's not my job to be a writer when I'm writing but the only good thing about my story is...

Martello
Apr 29, 2012

by XyloJW


Erik Shawn-Bohner posted:

Hi, I forgot to write it because it's not my job to be a writer when I'm writing but the only good thing about my story is...


Martello posted:

...when Dr. Erik Fushida walked into the tavern..

:smug::smug::smug:

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk









:siren:THUNDERBRAWL: ROUND 2: THE JUDGMENT:siren:

Prompt: Based on Dylan Thomas poem
Constraint: No dialogue, not depressing or dull

Martello vs twinkle cave

This round was meant to be hard - it's a weird and difficult poem in parts and the constraints were pretty fucky, particularly with less than a day to get it done. Both contestants turned out pieces that were flawed.

Martello - The Royal Funeral

That said, this one was well written, with a nice grasp of world details (the coffin carried by condemned men) and a vividly layered image at the close, with the statue. Using the statue to evoke the woman Thomas is writing about in the prompt poem is very well done.

However the story was packed full of reported dialogue. Reported dialogue is still dialogue. Skipping the tricky bit is cheap as hell, and I suspect it would be a stronger story if you hadn't.

Also, while genealogy and politics and crap is firmly in genre, in this context you could have cut it back plenty. Viz:

Tullia rolled her doe's eyes at Bron's sonorous recitation of Hilda's ancestry and familial relations. She told Bron that she knew all of that, but wasn't Hilda the type of woman who would take what she wanted, blood be damned?

This is an 'as you know, professor' and it's endemic to fantasy and sci-fi. It is also the Devil. Any time a character is bored by background detail, the reader probably is too.

Still, though nothing much happens, it's a decent story. It's cheeky leaning on an already created world, but it fit the poem prompt and I didn't exclude it or anything so we cool.

twinkle cave - 5 stages

Not gonna lie - I didn't like this at all. It's written by someone who can write, for sure, but it reads like someone free-associating into a dictaphone about six hours into a ketamine binge. There are a bunch of strong images, but in the absence of a clear organising story or metaphor they just dangle, shrunken and quivering in the icy breeze.

I'm sure there's an idea behind it that would make sense of it, but it's not apparent to me what that is.

Judgment

As above, I comped out twinkle's lateness in round 3 with Martello's prompt fail, so that makes this a clear win to Captain Fantasy-Pants.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk









Noah - The Town Where Old Grumvold Lived

You seemed uncertain about this one, and you shouldn't be. It has flaws as poetry: that rhyme scheme is very ploddy, go for rhythm that dances and internal rhymes in the lines instead, the metre is strained as are some of the word choices. But as an evocation of the cramped, dirty village life in the prompt poem it is excellent. If you were competing I might have edged this ahead of Martello's.

While it has some of the ambiguity I dinged twinkle cave for, in this it seems fertile rather than antagonistic. I end the poem wanting to know more. Particularly about Goody Mags and her candlesticks. Are they just her thing?

Good work.

supermikhail
Nov 17, 2012


"It's video games, Scully."
Video games?"
"He enlists the help of strangers to make his perfect video game. When he gets bored of an idea, he murders them and moves on to the next, learning nothing in the process."
"Hmm... interesting."


I spent an inordinate amount of time on this thing.

Gentleman's Dream 491 words.

No one knows the time, but one day you will come to my country. When the sun sets over the concrete mountains, you will appear on the crest of a hill, riding a black stallion. You will stare hard at my dilapidated tower, then gallop down through the gathering mists. I will watch you from my window, afraid to believe my eyes.

As you come closer, I will hide from your level gaze. The rabid snorting of your horse will disturb the still evening air, and your armor will clang as you dismount. I'll hear your heavy steps on the stairs and shrink away from the door, my heart beating ever so fast. There you'll appear, in the dark doorway, yellow sunlight playing on your black platemail.

“My queen,” you'll say, “I've brought you this gourd of Heaven's milk. Will you come with me?”

And I'll know you're the one.


I'll ride with you by the cover of the night up the rock path. A glow of white flame will meet us around a corner, and you'll lower me to the ground before charging the purple dragon at the top of the path. It'll swoop right at you and knock the horse off the cliffs, while you dive away, barely escaping the same fate. As the monster lands and bears on your small figure, I'll run up, and it'll fall quiet upon seeing me. I'll approach and kiss it on the head. At that, the fearsome beast will lie down. I'll mount the purple dragon, you'll sit behind me, hugging me tightly, and we'll fly over the rumpled mountains, roars of the dragon echoing below us. It'll fly higher and higher, beating its wings rhythmically, first slowly, then faster and faster, until it soars past the tallest peak. The rock will groan under its hot flame, and then the dragon'll drop sharply into a crevice where a hidden glade will await us.

A pink unicorn will come out of the trees and face the purple dragon who will bow its head and extinguish the fumes of its furnace. As you approach the unicorn, it'll beat the ground with agitation, and bolt, but you'll catch it by the horn at the last moment. You'll caress it to calm it down, to no avail; it'll dance and rear its head trying to break away. You'll climb on top of it to try to break it in, and hold on as it shakes you around. The earth and the sky will fuse into a smear in your eyes, you'll be about to fall down, but I'll run up and look the unicorn in the eye, and with the last jerk the unicorn will drop to its knees, and you'll roll off.

In the morning we'll ride on to your suburban castle, you with your purple dragon, I – with my pink unicorn. No one knows when it'll happen, but the time is drawing near.

Fanky Malloons
Aug 21, 2010

Is your social worker inside that horse?


Just in case you're dumb, the entry deadline has passed. Submission deadline is 11:59pm EST January 6th (i.e. tomorrow). I don't know how many hours away that is, because it's too early to be doing any kind of math right now. Figure it out yourselves, jerks.

twinkle cave
Dec 20, 2012


sebmojo posted:

:siren:THUNDERBRAWL: ROUND 2: THE JUDGMENT:siren:

twinkle cave - 5 stages

I'm sure there's an idea behind it that would make sense of it, but it's not apparent to me what that is.


I feel the darkness closing in!

A fair judgement. The idea behind it was 5 stages of grief. But a fail to get that across is a complete fail. The only way to improve is throw my body into the fray.

I'm also rather pleased that my after work daily demeanor = "free-associating into a dictaphone about six hours into a ketamine binge." This perhaps means I can just quit drinking.

You really put us against the wall with that prompt... drat HARD!

Martello
Apr 29, 2012

by XyloJW


The Saddest Rhino posted:

Martello
gently caress, I actually really like this the more I read and it was in the running for winner if Fanky didn't come in with her kitchen sink hugger (hippie chef). That poker scene was tightly paced and conveyed genuine tension, and the way Tommy spoke and acted really made his character stand out as the antagonist of the piece. That last line "thinking about the baby" is also killer. Sensational.

Chairchucker posted:

Martello - Poker with Squinty McFarlane. I liked this one a whole lot and it was actually my pick for the best one. The dialogue kept it moving nicely and the Tommy guy comes across as the kind of person richly deserving of the beating he receives at the end of it, so that was kind of satisfying as well.

Thanks for the kind words, guys. I also really liked how this story coalesced and I'm gonna keep working on it. Since it's technically lit-fic I will also start submitting it around once I'm happy with revisions.

sebmojo posted:

Martello - The Royal Funeral

That said, this one was well written, with a nice grasp of world details (the coffin carried by condemned men) and a vividly layered image at the close, with the statue. Using the statue to evoke the woman Thomas is writing about in the prompt poem is very well done.

However the story was packed full of reported dialogue. Reported dialogue is still dialogue. Skipping the tricky bit is cheap as hell, and I suspect it would be a stronger story if you hadn't.

Also, while genealogy and politics and crap is firmly in genre, in this context you could have cut it back plenty. Viz:

Tullia rolled her doe's eyes at Bron's sonorous recitation of Hilda's ancestry and familial relations. She told Bron that she knew all of that, but wasn't Hilda the type of woman who would take what she wanted, blood be damned?

This is an 'as you know, professor' and it's endemic to fantasy and sci-fi. It is also the Devil. Any time a character is bored by background detail, the reader probably is too.

Still, though nothing much happens, it's a decent story. It's cheeky leaning on an already created world, but it fit the poem prompt and I didn't exclude it or anything so we cool.

I figured the reported/summarized dialogue was edging close to the line (apparently stepping right over it) but apparently I'm just a big baby and can't write a story without it. Although really, I definitely could have. I think it could have worked just fine without any of that sidebar dialogue at all, just narrative descriptions of the Usurper's coffin and the drama inherent in the condemned pallbearers, and of course the statue at the end.

I'll be honest, I wasn't a big fan of that poem as a prompt and I really was railing against the "no dialogue" thing. But I like what I made out of it even if I didn't follow the rules like I should've.

HiddenGecko
Apr 15, 2007

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


Write! Write for your lives! I want to see some legit writing all up in here.

STONE OF MADNESS
Dec 28, 2012

PVTREFACTIO


Well, I'm likely to sleep through the deadline (I think) so here's my entry. It's rather too pleasant for my liking but then that was the brief, 'enjoy'.

A Gift 982 words
Upbeat lite historical romance feat. plovers


All along the shoreline, the plovers were calling.

“Oh look,” Alice gushed, “look, aren't they darling!” She clapped her little hands in delight, her satined sleeves bustling audibly against the toggles of her cape. “What do you suppose they are?”

“I've no idea, I'm not a bestiarist,” said Giles. “Shouldn't imagine they're especially rare.”

It was a lie, of course; he knew very well they were common grey plovers. He was exceedingly familiar with them – after all, they'd been a constant fixture, through all the years he'd come here. And it had been some time, now, since his father's trap had first arrived upon that cobbled strand.

Many years, and many visits; Giles sighed contentedly and, standing, offered his arm.

“Ooh!” Alice squeaked, slipping her gloved fingers through the crook of his elbow. It was one of her quirks, this exuberance, this unconstrained excitability, and he loved her for it.

Well, he thought he might, at least; and at this stage, that was more than he would usually dare hope for.

“Where are we going?” she asked, her uplifted eyes twinkling as if to say, not that we care!

“The beach. It's beautiful,” he said. “I'd like to show you.”

The sun had come out, and with it several people, traipsing downwards over glistening shells to dabble in the lapping noon-tide waters.

“Good-day,” Alice chirped as they passed each one, and Giles smiled; first at the passers-by, and then at Alice, for he rarely wasted the opportunity – but inwardly, as well, he grinned like a fool, for memories of leaner times, should he have cared to indulge them, were never far from reach.

“How lucky I am,” he said distractedly, and a little squeeze of his elbow told him that she knew.

They reached the shore, and Alice paused to unroll her glove and, most unladylike, to skip a stone across the water. It bounced admirably, and just as it sank, drew their attention to some object, dark and glistening, bobbing on the cerulean swell.
Alice saw it too. “What d'you suppose -”

She trotted forward, slipping off her shoes, and Giles thrilled as her delicate feet flashed pinkly in the sunshine. The object was some way out, a little further than Giles would like, but Alice had already started striding out into the shallows, and with an uncanny skill managed to find her way onto the sandbar.

“Look!” she called, turning back to peer at him. “It's a doctor's bag, or something!”

She waded a little further. It was only a matter of steps, now, to the box, but the sandbar suddenly gave out, and she paused, almost waist-deep, to consider.

“Alright,” he shouted, folding his jacket and piling it on top of his shoes, “hang on!”

The water was a little fresher than he'd expected. For a moment, he floundered, but within seconds he'd skirted the sandbar and was treading water just in front of Alice, grappling for purchase on the thing.

“Be careful,” Alice squealed, practically insensate with excitement, “you're going to break it!”

He dragged it to the sandbar, she helped him clamber up, and together they picked their way back to the beach, Giles holding the object to one side as gallons of water sluiced out of it.

It was a portmanteau, moderately sized, of what had at one time been brown leather. Alice fumbled with the clasps.

“It's not opening,” she said, and slouched back on her haunches in disparagement.

“I'll try,” said Giles, but the wind had changed, blowing coldly from the sea; and now it seemed preferable to accept Alice's outstretched fingers, instead.

The path up to the house was still a good few minutes' walk. Alice's shoes wouldn't tolerate salt and, so she said, as a matter of fact neither would his; and so they hobbled, quite slowly, Alice sheltered in the crevice of Giles' arm. The portmanteau he slung over his back, seeing as his shirt was already ruined – he had a little more concern about his jacket, sandwiched as it was between Alice's shoulders and his own sopping sleeve.

“My dress is ruined,” Alice said, teasing out her limp hair in the hallway, “but I suppose I can have Father send another one tomorrow.”

“You mean to say you've packed no others?”

“Perhaps,” she said, strolling over to the fireplace and leering at him wickedly. “Now let's see what's in that case!”

Giles needed a bath – his limbs were chilled, and his skin uncomfortable with salt. Nevertheless, he dragged the sodden thing into the drawing-room.

“Put it here,” said Alice, shifting an ottoman closer to the hearth.

“I say,” said Giles, “we should get a newspaper on that first,” but it was already too late; she didn't understand the difference, sadly, between her Father's things and his. Already, the one sat, leaching its brine, atop the other.

“Open it!” Alice clapped her hands.

He crouched down next to her, touched his thumbs to either clasp, and now, to his immense surprise, they sprang apart – the portmanteau creaked open.

“Oh, Giles,” Alice breathed, bowing her head into the hollows of his neck, “oh, Giles, it's beautiful!”

“Yes,” he said, “it is.” He lifted the glittering object from its bed of sand, and placed it at her breast.

“Fetch me a mirror, Giles,” she implored him, as he fastened the clasp behind her neck. He did, and took as much pleasure in watching her eyes as she did in admiring the jewels.

“Oh, Giles,” she said again, “the pearls, and these milky stones, and oh – how on earth did you do it? You arranged it all, didn't you? You did, didn't you – you beautiful boy...”

He couldn't have, of course; it was impossible, but he didn't disabuse her of the thought.

[edited for line breaks :ssh:]

toanoradian
May 30, 2011


Why aren't there any line breaks, STONE OF MADNESS?

Martello
Apr 29, 2012

by XyloJW


toanoradian posted:

Why aren't there any line breaks, STONE OF MADNESS?

Fanky Malloons
Aug 21, 2010

Is your social worker inside that horse?


Martello posted:


toanoradian posted:

Why aren't there any line breaks, STONE OF MADNESS?


STFU, I'm the judge here. :colbert:









Why aren't there any line breaks STONE OF MADNESS?

STONE OF MADNESS
Dec 28, 2012

PVTREFACTIO


For the same reason I don't use
* * *
between each scene.

I hate line breaks, I find them cumbersome.

So I only use them to denote a change in scene.

If I put a line break after every line of dialogue, my writing looks like this.

Don't really see a problem with just hitting return to add a beat - it's a cheap, harmless trick, like italicising thoughts, and it's effective. That said, if you're looking at the above and a missing line break is just screaming out to you, I'm here to learn so...

Capntastic
Jan 13, 2005

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



It's not just some sort of arcane appeal to tradition. Line breaks make things a lot easier to read.

STONE OF MADNESS
Dec 28, 2012

PVTREFACTIO


I'm flipping through a bunch of new release/popular fiction just now (Lee Child, Jasper Fforde, Vince Flynn) and I'm not seeing a whole lot of line breaks, except when there's a scene change within a chapter. (Do see a lot of indented dialogue though which I'd never really thought about.) If it's a web convention or a Thunderdome rule then of course I'm happy to comply, don't really see the point in putting a bunch of line breaks into my writing generally, though, if I'm just going to have to edit them out.

[EDIT] Line breaks schmine breaks, there I said it.

What about other criticisms, do you have 'em?

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk









STONE OF MADNESS posted:

I'm flipping through a bunch of new release/popular fiction just now (Lee Child, Jasper Fforde, Vince Flynn) and I'm not seeing a whole lot of line breaks, except when there's a scene change within a chapter. (Do see a lot of indented dialogue though which I'd never really thought about.) If it's a web convention or a Thunderdome rule then of course I'm happy to comply, don't really see the point in putting a bunch of line breaks into my writing generally, though, if I'm just going to have to edit them out.

[EDIT] Line breaks schmine breaks, there I said it.

What about other criticisms, do you have 'em?

I KILL YOU UGLY, FUCKBREATH.

Line breaks are a good idea, imo.

Martello
Apr 29, 2012

by XyloJW


STONE OF MADNESS posted:

I'm flipping through a bunch of new release/popular fiction just now (Lee Child, Jasper Fforde, Vince Flynn) and I'm not seeing a whole lot of line breaks, except when there's a scene change within a chapter. (Do see a lot of indented dialogue though which I'd never really thought about.) If it's a web convention or a Thunderdome rule then of course I'm happy to comply, don't really see the point in putting a bunch of line breaks into my writing generally, though, if I'm just going to have to edit them out.

[EDIT] Line breaks schmine breaks, there I said it.

What about other criticisms, do you have 'em?

Line breaks are a web thing. It's like double-spacing in academic papers. Use them. If a judge has a hard time reading your piece, they'll be ill-disposed towards giving it a good score. Such that there are "scores" around here, that is.

They also fix the no indented dialogue problem, since you can't indent here. See one of my entries for a good way to do line breaks.

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010


Just to be sure, we've got about 20 hours right?





You know there's a middle ground between

every


word


on


a



new



line



and the whole story behind one gigantic block of text, right?

STONE OF MADNESS
Dec 28, 2012

PVTREFACTIO


Martello posted:

Line breaks are a web thing. It's like double-spacing in academic papers. Use them. If a judge has a hard time reading your piece, they'll be ill-disposed towards giving it a good score.

I hear this.
Inserting line breaks, for easier on-screen reading.

/derail

Fanky Malloons
Aug 21, 2010

Is your social worker inside that horse?


SurreptitiousMuffin posted:

Just to be sure, we've got about 20 hours right?

The entry deadline -- 11:59pm EST January 6th -- is now approximately 12 and a half hours away.

Since you live in a crazy timezone I'll forgive you, but the next person to ask about the deadline will be summarily executed. By which I mean disqualified.

Symptomless Coma
Mar 30, 2007
for shock value

O-kay, let's do this. An unlikeable yet believable protagonist in a horror.

Useless Things (986w)

Dido looked ungrateful at her present. New eyes are hard to come by - where once I'd have settled for any old pair of beachballs, oilies or even bumblebees when money was scarce, professionalism dictated I get these ground at the specialists in Marlow. Deep brown, to match the fur on her back, with a spare set to boot. She stared at me with indifference. At least she was headed to a similarly spoilt, similarly idle brat of a daughter in a week, where she would serve as a reminder of that greatest of the deadly sins.
I turned back, to the rest of the population of Get Stuffed.
“The rest of you will be more receptive, I hope,” I said, to no-one in particular, “considering the second chance I’ve given you.”

I walked to the counter to retrieve my coffee – noting, with some irritation, the continued flickering of the bulb in the workroom behind – and took the lukewarm liquid to the window. Islington is a celebration of inertia. Through its dusky streets I saw cafes, bars, pubs, clubs and strip-clubs (I imagine), all dedicated to making a person’s shuffle into death as easily borne as possible. Outside the Nailgun Arms, a young man and woman – or was it a man and man, or were they neither? – were locked in an embrace, their long, slender limbs searching each others’ creases and folds for what they already knew to be there. The shuffling of ants.

Ants would be preferable, I thought, as I turned back to survey the shop. Rufus, faithful basset hound, stood on guard beside the coat stand, tail still aloft thanks to its core of wire. Charles lounged elegantly on the chaise longue, in a position I’d been particularly taken with, his soft ginger fur complementing the cushions in an excellent conclusion to a ninth life. My prized find, Boethius the Komodo Dragon, was curled beside the door, an eternal confirmation of my own restorative skill. Useless things that life had thrown out, that I’d found useful places for.
The phone at the desk rang. I walked over, pondering an expletive to shout at the late caller, and picked up the handset. There was the distant sound of a drop of water.
Drip.
A rattling breath.
Drip.
Another weathered exhalation.
Dri-
I dropped my coffee cup to the floor. The third drip had sounded loudly, clearly, in my other ear, coming from-
I looked towards the back room, just in time to see the light flicker and die, the darkness from the room overwhelming the little bulb and stretching out into the shop.
“Sssss,” said the voice on the phone.

I fell back, slamming my head against the metal toolbox. When I opened my eyes, head against floor, I let out a whimper. Boethius had moved. It was so slight that I wanted not to believe it but it could not be mistaken: the long body was uncoiled, and its scales lay upon the mat, blocking the shop door. Its black eye was fixed upon me, but nothing moved. The light in the shop flickered. For the briefest sliver of time everything was in blackness which I thought would never end, and then a dim orange light returned. In the gloom the steady drip continued, and then I saw a puddle edging from the back room towards my feet. I reached forward to touch it but it was thicker than water. I brought it to my face, fearing the worst, but I suddenly felt a familiar lightheadedness – formaldehyde, methanol. My embalming fluid.
I looked at Boethius. Its tail was raised.

There was an animal howl, cutting as glass, from my workroom. I shrank back against the toolbox, willing myself into the smallest possible space. The howl became a chorus, every animal and several I could not imagine, before echoing into silence. Then there was the gentlest scratching sound, and that I recognised. A bone saw, severing a collar or a neck or splintering joints in preparation to hang a head on a wooden shield, to mount on another wall in another old house. The weak orange light gave the animals long shadows as the scraping, grinding noise of the saw grew louder. I picked up the phone, and dialed the only number I knew.
“Lucille?”
There was an empty tone on the phone, and the sound of wet hacking from the back room. I steadied my voice with memories of lost parenting.
“Lucille, I’ve finished your present. It’s high time you paid your father a visit to collect it. Yes, come here.”
The reply on the phone froze me. Not because it was strained and muffled, as though pulling at stitches. Because it was mine.
“Useless things,” it said.
“Who are you?”
“Nature’s throwaways, unnaturally preserved forever when we should be discarded.”
Boethius’ shadow was gargantuan, long enough to touch me.

The fluid had begun to lick at my shoes. I dropped the phone and scrabbled behind me for some weapon, and my fingers touched something small and smooth. As I picked it up I felt pain, and I saw I had grasped a needle, threaded with cotton that was darkened from gore. I looked for an escape, but all I could see were distant lights from across the street. Underneath them would be the revelers, but now I could not see them and I knew they would pay no mind to my shop, for they were together and I was alone. I would die alone, surrounded by animal witnesses. Alone, a useless thing. I looked up, and my eyes met the brown stones of Dido the sloth. Dido, who had an eternity left to find some purpose. I felt something under my other hand, and closed it. I knew what I had just picked up before I even opened the fingers.

There, invitingly, a pair of smooth, brown orbs. I grasped the needle.

Director's Commentary Bonus Notes!
1 - While not called Get Stuffed, there is indeed an old-style taxidermist's round the corner from my house. So he is, in that sense, believable. Though that guy's not quite so hateful.
2 - Beachballs, oilies and bumblebees are UK colloquialisms for various kinds of marble.
3 - I think it's strange and a little sad that I somehow took 'horror' to automatically mean 'Hipster Lovecraft Fanfic'. But maybe that's something you have to get out of your system. Whatever happens, this prompt has made me think I need to give horror a few more tries. So thanks, Thunderdome!

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk









:siren:THUNDERBRAWL: ROUND 3: FINAL JUDGMENT:siren:

Prompt: A bar at the end of the world, three sets of secrets
Constraint: Modern, noone dies

Martello vs twinkle cave

In contrast to the extra-fucky last round prompt, this one was straightforward. Two of the stories rocked hard, one less so.

Martello - Industrial Espionage

This is exemplary sci-fi. Sets up the environment with a quick spatter of well-chosen details, makes those details important to the story, then gets out of the way so the characters can get on with it. Incidentally the ambiguity in 'end of the world' was meant to leave space for a physical reading, like 'ends of the earth' and setting it in orbit is exactly the sort of thing I had in mind.

Kara is a tidily sketched character, and while her dialogue is a little rote, that fits with the slightly awkward chat of strangers. And you even lampshade it by running her thoughts underneath the talking - she's sort of talking on autopilot while she schemes her way into Paul's pants.

The twist is great, and very fitting with the genre, the secrets are well distributed, and you even hit Shorn Boner's prompt by making his avatar a super-cool secret agent monkey man.

That said, it's kind of mysterious why it all goes violent at the end; but you deliver it with enough panache it doesn't seem to matter.

twinkle cave - Cross Examination

This went with a post-apoc theme, which is fine, but didn't do much with it apart from a vague feeling of global doom somewhere out there. And the secret seems to be 'we're all going to eat each other', which isn't strong.

Neither of these would be a major problem if the story itself were stronger. But it's not, it's a weird rattled-out mishmash of rpg-tropes with an OMG THE TWIST ending that lands with no impact.

Plus, as well as a few missing line breaks and a 'loose/lose' typo, you have horrible constructions like: "The men crept downstairs until they saw a long line of casks" and "Just as his head was between Jack's teeth the man let out a large laugh". Oh, and you skipped Boner's prompt entirely - he may be a beardy drunken chucklefuck, but rules is rules, brother.

Comfortably your worst story, and while I'm sure it was spurted out under extreme time pressure, that's the 'Dome.

Final Judgment

The challenger made a strong start, but his fitness gave out after a few passes, unable to cope with the punishing pace of the 'brawl. The war-hardened veteran disposed of him with ease, striking a pose over the eviscerated corpse.

MARTELLO WINS THE THUNDERBRAWL.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk









Noah - It might be warm but at least it's free

This is post apoc done right, not least by making the fact that it takes place in a bar vital to the story. The sci-fi is done well, with Ben-G's splicery sensitivity tidily integrated into the story. I also like the straightforward set-up - reunion, drinks, etc.

You've been pinged for over-writing before, and I think this shows your progress in fixing that - it's clean. And that candle line, "Like a candle burning down to the puddle of wax it had created for itself, wondering what happens next" is killer. Plus, and most important of all, you make us care about your weird gene-hosed protag and his wife. Nice work.

My only criticism, and it's minor, is having the other two both be responsible for the global apocalypse - it's a little much weight for the story to carry, and could probably have been toned back. But it's a single line, and you end with a flourish.

I'd place this probably a hair below Martello's, were it in competition.

twinkle cave
Dec 20, 2012


sebmojo posted:

:siren:THUNDERBRAWL: ROUND 3: FINAL JUDGMENT:siren:

Final Judgment

The challenger made a strong start, but his fitness gave out after a few passes, unable to cope with the punishing pace of the 'brawl. The war-hardened veteran disposed of him with ease, striking a pose over the eviscerated corpse.

MARTELLO WINS THE THUNDERBRAWL.

ARRGGHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!

The brutal wisdom of the THUNDERDOME has spoken. Defeat and public humiliation... this is the only way to start the year in the dome.

Congratulations to the THUNDERBRAWL CHAMPION martello THE HUMONGOUS.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk









Indeed! That was fun as hell, thanks for making the challenge twinkle cave. And congrats to Martello for the win, and to Noah for making a strong showing as the pacesetter.

swaziloo
Aug 29, 2012


Fanky will be happy to know that much discomfort resulted from this prompt: A self-contained, tween fiction that is neither scifi nor fantasy in which a person deals with things lacking importance.

Sus Scrofa (967 words)

Kevin ran down the overgrown trail through the gorge to the beach.  Branches and twigs whipped his face and arms, but he dared not close his eyes and risk tripping over a stump or a big rock--or worse.  He hated the trail.  Hated the bushes that might be thorny and tear his skin, or poisonous and result in days of calamine.  He hated the rustling sound that chased him as he ran. 

His big brother told him he imagined it, but what did Elliot know anyhow?  Since when were teenagers authorities on wild pigs?  Just because Elliot hadn't heard the terrible beast that lived in the gulch and pursued Kevin every time he went to the beach didn't mean it wasn't there--didn't mean it wasn't behind him right now.

He redoubled his effort, and sprinted the last hundred yards before leaping free from the brush, across the bridge over the creek, and onto the safety of the sand.  He stood there, panting, his hands on his thighs, and watched for movement in the bushes.  A minute later, satisfied the fearsome creature wasn't going to show its face, he started down the beach.

The first winter storm had piled thick kelp on the sand, and the half-dried, half-rotten stuff scented the breeze with its characteristic reek.  Kevin felt repulsed and amazed by the clouds of flies that erupted with each crunchy step across the squishy bed.  He hadn't gone far before he spotted a man on the reef.  He stopped in place, allowing the flies to settle on his shoes.

The man was dressed inappropriately.  He wore long shorts, or maybe short pants, and a light windbreaker.  His dreadlocks were cinched into a bundle by a dark bandana.  He stood on the sharp, uneven reef with open sandals and grasped a long stick which he kept lowering into the tide pools.  Kevin looked up and down the beach, but didn't see anyone else.

Knowing his mother was sure to disapprove, he jumped over the sandy channel and walked across the rocks to see what the man was doing.  The tide was out, but the occasional wave still splashed through the deeper pools.  "Whatcha doin?"  Kevin asked when he was close enough to be heard without shouting.

The man withdrew his pole from a hole and worked it down into another.  "Poke-poling.  Hawaiian guy showed me how."  The man didn't take his focus off the tide pool into which he poked.

"People usually fish out there on the beach."  Kevin looked around, there wasn't a bucket or cooler in sight either.  "What are you trying to catch?"

"Eel.  Maybe octopus, if I'm lucky."  The man withdrew the pole, and Kevin noted the large, baited hook tied to the end with a short bit of line.  He carefully fit the pole under a tangle of floating kelp and down into another crack.

"How do you know there's something down there?"  Kevin asked after watching for a minute, then added, "My name is Kevin," before the man responded.

"Peter."  He looked up for the first time and smiled for a  moment.  There was something wrong with his right eye--it was cloudy and gray.  "I know it's there because I listened."

Kevin wrinkled his nose.  "Listened?"  Nobody had ever said that fish provide audible clues to their location or disposition before. 

"Listen.  Nature will tell you a lot of valuable things."  Peter withdrew the pole and held it beside him on the rock.  He squatted in place, turned his ear toward the water, and closed his eyes.  "Listen," he whispered.

Kevin followed his example, but periodically cracked open one eye to see if Peter was still just squatting there listening.  All he could hear was the crash of surf on the mussel beds in the distance, the trickle of water flowing through the pools, and the gentle howl of the wind. 

"Did you hear him?"  Peter stood up and moved a few steps around the large pool they bordered.  He carefully slid the hook down into a crack not far from Kevin's feet.

Kevin was about to answer that he hadn't heard anything, when there erupted in the water a sudden and violent chaos.  Peter held firmly to the end of his pole, and though it tested his balance and threatened to pull him into the pool, he kept his feet and coaxed his captive from its hole.  Kevin wanted to help, but there was no net or gaff or anything for him to do.  What Peter ultimately pulled from the pool was the largest, ugliest fish Kevin had ever seen.  It was as long as a man's thigh, and just about as thick, with a face that even a mother wouldn't love.  Peter, holding it against the rock with his sandal, produced a knife from his belt and quickly jammed it into the eel's head.  There was a spasm, and the creature was dead.  Peter pulled a sack from under his jacket and wrapped up his prize. 

"Dinner."  He smiled and started walking away over the rocks.  "Hone your senses, and that pig will never get you!"  He called back over his shoulder.

Kevin watched as Peter made his way back to the sand and started walking away along the beach.  He was contemplating how Peter knew about the pig when an unexpected wave washed right over him, filling both his shoes with frigid water and nearly knocking him into the pool.  Soured, he climbed over the rocks, up the sand, over the dry, crunchy, smelly kelp, and back to a half-burned driftwood trunk near the bridge.  He pulled off his shoes and wrung out his socks. 

At the head of the trail, before his paranoid dash, Kevin squatted and listened, but he heard only the waves and the wind.

Martello
Apr 29, 2012

by XyloJW


twinkle cave posted:

ARRGGHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!

The brutal wisdom of the THUNDERDOME has spoken. Defeat and public humiliation... this is the only way to start the year in the dome.

Congratulations to the THUNDERBRAWL CHAMPION martello THE HUMONGOUS.

I accept your surrender graciously, and look forward to the next time we can drink beer and pound hot iron together.

Zack_Gochuck
Jan 3, 2007

Stupid Wrestling People


Here's my teen supernatural romance not featuring werewolves or vampires.

Bernard (486)

Stella finally figured it out. Bernard was a one-eyed ogre! That’s why he was 700 pounds at age 15. He wasn’t fat like Troy had said. He wasn’t a weirdo like Nancy had said. He wasn’t even an exchange student from Madagascar like the principal told everyone. He was an ogre. She was surprised no one else noticed.

The other girls went for jocks and theatre geeks, but something about the eight-and-a-half-foot-tall freshman drew Stella in. Everyone assumed he sat alone at lunch because he took up and entire table, but Stella saw something fragile, almost spiritual. Each day, she admired the delicacy with which he ground leftover bones into bread and slathered them in jam.

The world had no place for an eight-and-a-half-foot-tall, 700 pound, one-eyed ogre, just as it had no place for Stella. She thought that maybe, just maybe, they could find their place together. A place with a ground-level entrance and reinforced flooring.

Everything was set. Bernard was going to come over and meet her parents and have dinner on the 22nd.

On the big day, Stella put on a yellow dress. She looked in the mirror, shook her head and threw it in the closet. Simple. Keep things simple. She put on a blouse. Mom was making salmon. What if Bernard didn’t like Salmon? She stared herself down in the mirror, “Stop worrying. It’ll be fine.”

Three loud knocks at the door. Then a grunt. Then Bernard’s size 32 boot kicked the door off its hinges. He was dressed in a loincloth. Turtlenecks for 700 pound, eight-and-a-half-foot-tall, one-eyed ogres must have been on backorder down at the Gap.

“Bernard,” Dad wore a sensible black polo, “So nice to finally meet you. You’re all Stella talks about! Put 'er there!”

Bernard tore dad’s arm off, grunted and ate it.

Dad nodded appreciatively, “Now that’s a nice stiff handshake. Just the other day I was saying how too many young men have weak handshakes. Never make it with a weak handshake.”

The cat hissed and the hair on its back stood on end. Bernard stepped on it.

“That drat cat,” Dad pointed at a mound of goo under Bernard’s foot, “That’s no way to behave when we have a guest!”

At seven, everyone sat at the dinner table. Mom served Bernard first, “So Bernard, I hear you’re from Madagascar. Must be nice this time of the year.”

Bernard grunted and flipped over the table. Mom laughed, “Stella always goes for the kidders.”

At nine, Stella and her parents showed Bernard to the door. Dad nudged mom, “Let’s leave these two love birds alone so they can say goodnight, eh?”

Stella giggled, “Tonight went well, don’t you think?”

Bernard cradled her in his arms and raised her to his lips. Stella puckered up. Her first kiss. It was perfect.

Bernard grunted, opened his mouth and swallowed her whole.

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SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010


Prompt: about unimportant things, funny, no fantasy, no altered states. Also it's about fake dicks even though that's an old prompt.



Matters of proprietary


“I'm sorry Mr. Sotheby but Sotheby's holds the copyright to your name. You may under no circumstances call your-” James Arnold stopped and sniffed. The shop was crowded with the sort of strange knick-knack that people seem to love; 5p gee-gaws from trade-aid shops from every benighted county in England. Snowglobes and fake watches and in one corner, some sort of large clay pipe in the shape of a man clutching tightly to his oversized-

phallus corrected Arnold, before his internal monologue took a turn into dangerous territory.

“-your emporium Sotheby's.” His glare fell on the fake Mr. Sotheby, “and unless you change the name by the end of the fiscal year, we will be forced to take legal action,” he said. There, it was all out in the open. Arnold turned his body slightly, to avoid having to see the indecent pipe. Sotheby noticed though, his bloodhound eyes perking up. “Oh Sir, you've seen the peace pipe. Why, my wife Elda, God-Rest-Her-Soul, bought it back from Peru about fifteen years ago. They say if you blow-”

“That's quite enough, Mr. Sotheby. I believe we are done here. I'll leave you with the paperwork,” said Arnold as he beat a hurried retreat in the face of the Fake Sotheby's aggressive earnestness. The bell over the door gave a sad little jangle as he left, leaving Sotheby in the dark with his things. The peace-pipe loomed menacingly, casting the shadow of a clay mushroom onto the wrinkled hangdog of a man below.

“Elda,” he said, “what should I do, Elda?”

He looked up at the pipe, then down at his shaking hands and that very night, he hatched a plan.


***


~ CLOSING DOWN PARTIE FREE DIRNKS AN SAUSAGES ~

SOTHEBY'S WONDERMENT EMPROIUM IS REGRETTABLIE SHUTTING IT'S DOORS BUT WE ARE GOING OUT WITH A BASH.

JANURY 22ND 4PM

RESPONDAY SEAL VOO PLAY

NOE PLUS ONES.



Arnold's lip twitched as he read the letter. “You are cordially invited,” he muttered. He laughed despite himself. Why not? It would be a fittingly sad end to the sad little shop that had caused him so much grief. His client has been on the receiving end of no less than three lawsuits after products bought at “Sotheby's” turned out to be less valuable than advertised. None of them had succeeded but they'd wasted a lot of time and made the grand old house look bad for the press.

Well, I've nothing better to do this afternoon he thought. He opened his closet and picked out his best suit. He hoped the other partygoers would appreciate it and at the very least, it would inject some class into the occasion. “Well,” he said to himself, “time to meet the hoi polloi.”


***


“Hello?” said Arnold. The shop was dark and quiet. He noted with some satisfaction that the 'peace pipe' had been taken off the shelf. The Fake Sotheby must've caught onto his faux pas and put it away. It was either that or someone bought the thing, which was too horrible to even contemplate.

The door swung closed with a little jangling of bells. “Mr. Arnold sir,” said a small voice. Arnold jumped hard enough that he almost slammed into a shelf of snowglobes. The little man was standing behind him, shrouded in shadow. Only his eyes were visible, shining and red-rimmed. He took a step forward and the lawyer noticed the vulgar clay impliment in his hands. “I had a talk with Elda and we agreed to keep the shop the way it is, sir.”

“Your- your wife, man? You said she was dead.”

“Yessir, these last 15 years. We had her cremated.”

Arnold's gaze was now fixed solidly on the pipe. “You surely don't mean-”

“I surely do, Sir,” said Sotheby. He stretched himself out to full height and Arnold became accutely aware that the antique dealer was less a small man than a giant of a man all bundled up. He was unbundled now and his head touched the roof. The pipe was made of hard, red clay. It looked much larger up close. “There's no party Sir, that much should be apparent by now, especially for a smart gent like yourself. Now I'm not a man of letters but I know about men and I know you and your dogs are going to keep on coming back unless I give you something … special.”

He raised the pipe high and Arnold cowered. All he could think were headlines

LOCAL MAN MORTIFIED BY BIG COCK
REVENGE OF THE INCAS: MUCHO PENIS

or maybe even
PROMINENT LAWYER GETS SKULL hosed

and sombre police officers with a row of stone dildos and the lone witness saying “yes, that one!”

His whole life went before his eyes and it was horribly boring. “I never did see Belfast,” he managed to say before the clay connected squarely with his palms.

“I saw you looking at it Sir and I straight away knew you liked it. If I give you my wife Elda's peace pipe, will you leave us alone? A man like you probably has a very stressful job and could do with a little release from time to time if you know what I mean,” Sotheby said with terrifying geniality.

“Yes, yes of course,” said Arnold. He took the pipe in two hands, scared the hammering of his heart would shatter the clay. “I have never been more grateful, Mr. Sotheby. You really don't know what this means to me,” he said. The little-big man was grinning ear to ear. “Oh I knew it. You have a lovely day Sir,” he said.

The bells jangled once last time and James Arnold hit the street, clay bong in hand. He looked at it and its tiny clay eyes looked back. “Yes,” he said, “I could use a little stress release.”

He had never meant anything so much in his entire life.





[1000 words exactly]