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Seldom Posts
Jul 4, 2010

Grimey Drawer

I announce my intention to compete. Fresh meat for the thunderdome.


Seldom Posts
Jul 4, 2010

Grimey Drawer

I just learned I have to leave town and go to a place with no internet until early next week. So here's my submission.

I am a straight white cis male from Canada. I am praying this story is not offensive to the groups it portrays. areyoucontagious and I apparently picked the same city and similar noir plot tropes. Dammit.

Gin and Blood
Word count: 2,044 (no time to cut it more--I deserve whatever punishment I get for going over)

My Ouma used to say that if a man wanted to kill himself with drink, it was going to happen. She knew what she was talking about, because that was how Oupa died. One winter morning on a cliff in Saldanha he stood looking out over the Atlantic with a shotgun pressed against his temple and nothing on but Ouma’s shift and her black Sunday pumps. But he wouldn’t have pulled the trigger without that litre of rum in his veins, so she was technically right.

“Right again, Ouma,” I muttered. And furthering Ouma's wisdom, it appeared it didn’t matter if the drinking man in question was born a woman.

“What’d you say?” asked Lorelei. She couldn’t stop crying, but she kept reapplying her makeup anyway. Her man’s body hung from a belt in the closet, and smelled like enough Amarula to make me gag. She didn’t wait for an answer, just started going into her sob story for the 100th time. She swore he wasn’t the type to off himself. Their last contact had been when he had texted her earlier in the day to say that he had just rounded up enough money for the down payment on new breasts. She was going to go from a hormone enhanced A-cup to a silicone C-cup. And he was going to get exclusive access to those sweet anties when they tied the knot a couple of weeks after the surgery. She had a nice looking De Beers that she twisted on her finger. But, alas poor Romeo, he is already dead. That was actually the sap’s name—I had to admit it took a lot of balls to go from Dolores to Romeo. That gave me a little idea:

“What about him? Had he had any work done?”

“He had hormones too, and we were going to save up for him to get surgery.”

“Did you save up for the boob job?”

“I think he got the money from Loaner Jane—do you think she came after him?” She grabbed on to my arm and looked up at me with those big brown eyes. Broads—they were all the same. She squeezed my bicep. “You’ll help us won’t you?”

“He’s beyond helping, sweetheart. But I’ll help you.” I gave her my card.


“Come by my office tomorrow with the retainer.” I freed my arm and tipped my hat to her. “And you should call the cops now.”

“The cops! But you know how they treat us!”

“I know honey, but they’ll treat you even worse if you don’t call them. And you’re not getting rid of this body by yourself.” I turned the doorknob and looked back at her: “But don’t tell them I was here.”


“I’m… not popular with them.”

That was an understatement, I thought as I trotted down the stairs of their third floor walkup. Ex-cop, ex-woman, and proud Coloured—that was three strikes for the Joburg PD, as Oupa used to say

I headed for Simply Blue. The docs tell me that booze and testosterone don’t mix, and I usually follow their advice until the late afternoon. Simply Blue changes from a nice local into a throbbing dance scene most nights, so I like to bend my elbow and get out before that happens. I’m not what you’d call social, but the bar is not just my source of liquor, it’s also my source of work. You don’t become the premier LGBT private eye in Joburg without getting out a bit.

I was drinking J&B and chasing it with Castle Lager when trouble sidled up to me at the bar. He was long and lean and moved like a dancer. His coal black skin shimmered in the soft lights. “Buy me a drink?” I was signaling for the bartender before he finished the question.

His name was Devide. I lit his cigarettes with my zippo. I showed him my card, and he seemed impressed. I’d got to know him with my ears within a couple hours. I wanted to get him back to my place so I could get to know him with the rest of my body.

“So how come I’ve never seen you around here before?” I asked.

“Maybe you just haven’t been looking hard enough.”

“I would’ve noticed a beulah like you before.”

“You’re trying to flatter me.”

“Is it working?” He ignored my question and took another sip of his cocktail.

“Actually,” he said, “work keeps me pretty busy. My boss is a real slave driver.” He paused and took another sip. “But it’s worth it. The crazy poo poo I see…”

“Who’s your boss?”

“Loaner Jane.” If he noticed I was choking, he didn’t let on. “You should have seen the crazy little guy that came in this morning. Borrowed up to the hilt, and was talking poo poo to her the whole time. Can you believe it?”

I could believe Romeo was dumb, yeah. Loaner Jane used to be Swingin’ Stan Slaughter—a serious contender for the national heavyweight title. After a decent career, he took the money he’d managed to keep out of his manager’s hands and bought himself an operation. After that, she still had enough money to set herself up as a loan shark, catering to our previously underserved community. She would loan to cis types and straights too, of course, but apparently they’re even uptight about who they get their beatings from. She was one of the most glamorous and fearsome people I had ever set eyes on, and word was that she also had a love of gin that made her a little unpredictable. It wouldn’t be a stretch to think that she might forcibly hang Romeo with his shirts, but why on the same day he borrowed?

“How much did he take?”

“Four hundred grand.” I let out a low whistle. 400,000 Rand was going to buy a lot more than a down payment on a new chest.

“What was he going to do with it?”

“That was the weird thing. He counted out about 75 thou, and then locked the rest in a cheap box and asked if we’d hold it for him—why would he do that?”

“Because the sneaky little poo poo wanted to see where her safe was” I blurted out without thinking. loving whiskey.

“Ha! You and Jane are both smarter than me. She went into a back room and stuck the box under some cushions and told him it was safe. Nobody knows where she keeps her real money, not even me.”

But I was willing to bet that Romeo had snuck right back in looking for a safe in that back room; and that Jane had caught him. But how did he end up in the closet? Something wasn’t adding up.

“Of course, I do know where a box with 325,000 bucks is.” Devide had a sly look on his face. “Want to go get it?”

It didn’t take as long as it should have for him to convince me. If Jane had killed Romeo, then she would have already taken the money in the box back. But if she hadn’t, the box would still be there. I’d be able to test my hypothesis. I wasn’t dumb enough to take the box if it was there, but I had a hunch it wouldn’t be.

As we left, Devide slid his arm into mine. “You packing?”

“You saw my card—that’s private.” He looked puzzled for a minute and then started laughing.

“I mean a gun, silly.” He left his hand on me a little longer than he needed to.

I walked him over to my car and popped the trunk. I showed him my Colt Anaconda while I loaded it.

“Ooo, impressive—but maybe you’re compensating a bit?”

“I’ve got more firepower than this gun does, honey.”

Loaner Jane did business out of an apartment above a laundromat, but Devide said she lived somewhere else—he had never been to her place. He had a key and we slipped into a tiny back kitchen. He went to turn on the lights and I slapped his hand. Why are the pretty ones always so stupid? We went into the back room and dug under the couch cushions. I pulled the box out and stared at it. “What the gently caress?”

“What the gently caress indeed, honey.” If I’d had balls, they would’ve climbed up into my gut. Loaner Jane was in the doorway. She’d flicked the light in the kitchen behind her, and there wasn’t much room for the light to come past her. She was wearing a fabulous silk night gown and had a cricket bat cocked to swing. “Hosh, honey. You better not be reaching for that gun.” My hand had been creeping to my holster. I left it on my hip. She looked at Devide. He was panicking.

“Shoot her!” I didn’t like my odds of my drunken reflexes against her prizefighter ones, but I knew the colt had the stopping power I needed for her. I tensed up. She held her hand up to me.

“Steady there, little guy.” She narrowed her eyes at Devide. “What, you didn’t think you’d wake me up? You’re not that dumb—did he put you up to this?” My stomach lurched.

“Shoot her,” he was practically squealing.

“I don’t think so,” I said. “You lied to me.”

“Oh you dumb poo poo, we’re all gonna die now.”

“No you’re not.” The door in the kitchen banged open. “Drop that bat and back up nice and easy Jane.” We could hear the hammer of a gun getting thumbed back. Jane dropped the bat and backed up. Romeo and Lorelei were standing just inside the front door. Romeo gestured with the Smith & Wesson Model 29 he was carrying for us to come out of the back room. Maybe it was about compensating. “Garrett, you useless poo poo, slide your gun over to me and get beside Jane.” I did it. Devide came out behind and walked over to them. Lorelei hugged him.

“Thank God, I wasn’t sure if you guys could tell what was going on.” Devide said.

“We knew he might not shoot her—go get the money.” Romeo gestured toward the fridge. Devide opened it up and pulled a lockbox out of the vegetable crisper. Lorelei grabbed the other box from the back room and held both boxes. Romeo gave the gun to Devide. “Cover them while I tie them up.” He looked at me. “It would’ve been better if you had shot her. We would’ve cut you in.”

“gently caress you,” I snarled, and then his brains and blood were all over me as Devide shot him in the back of the head. His headless corpse dropped to the ground. My ears rang, but I could still hear Lorelei squeal happily. The recoil had sent Devide stumbling back a step with the gun pointing at the ceiling. Jane swiped a full bottle of gin off the counter and covered the distance between them with frightening speed. The bottle exploded over Devide’s head, soaking them with gin and blood. Devide sagged to the ground with his head at an unnatural angle.

“Oh baby, baby no!” Lorelei screamed. She fell over his body. “Wake up, wake up, please.” Jane grabbed the back of her head and slit her throat with the broken bottle.

“Drama queen.” She turned and looked at me. “It’s Garrett right? I’ve heard of you. I’m sorry about this, but it’s way less risky for me to get rid of one extra body then it is to have a witness running around.” She raised the bottle.

“You’re right,” I said. I flicked my zippo and tossed it at her gin sodden robe. She went up like a bonfire. I stepped into the back room and put all my weight on the door to hold it shut while she screamed and pounded on it.

When it was quiet, I opened the door. I grabbed my gun, stepped over the bodies and went out the door as the place caught fire, reflecting on the dangers of alcohol. “It’s true for ladies too,” I whispered to Ouma.

Seldom Posts
Jul 4, 2010

Grimey Drawer

I just got back from the land of no internet. Thanks to the extension, I can say that I am in for this week as well.

Martello posted:

Well done, sebmojo!

For the record, "Gin and Blood" by Seldom Posts was my favorite, with "Lion, in the rain" a close second. However, the gaping plot hole at the beginning of "Gin and Blood" knocked it down a few pegs. How can you smell gin on a corpse but can't tell it's not really a corpse? :colbert:

Belated congratulations to Sebmojo as well. Thanks to the judges for the awesome prompt, and thanks to everyone else for the great stories.

I am very happy that Martello liked my story, and he and budgieinspector are absolutely correct about the size of that plot hole. I like the story enough to try and rework it though.

Alright, that's enough being nice--My moon story is going to kick everyone's asses as soon as I get an idea.

Seldom Posts
Jul 4, 2010

Grimey Drawer

New World

I am standing at the only window. The cold outside is unfathomable, but here I am swaddled by steel. Warmth is provided in part by my beloved brown liquor that I hold under my nose, touch to my lips, and swallow in gracious parcels. So acrid to some, but I can taste the smoke and peat, the far away soil from which it came—and underneath, the hands that worked that soil.

Filling my vision is that blue marble that we long ago departed, and from which my drink was imported at no small cost. Worth it, of course, since the work of revolution is not for the faint of heart. Hard decisions have to be made; and a glass at the end of the day is a balm.

Arise, the oppressed of the Earth,
For justice thunders condemnation;
A better world’s in birth

The words fall quietly from my lips. Oh happy time, oh how we sang! The memories of those days drive the melancholy from my mind. The cursed NLM—or National Lunar Mining Corporation, as was often pedantically spelled out on their pathetic communiques—they had no idea what we had birthed from their plans. To live and work on the moon was nothing less than a new world for humankind; and we aimed to grow from its cold rocks and dust a womb that would birth true solidarity. The Lunar Miner’s Union was formed, in secret, before we departed. We announced our birth on arrival, and demanded the negotiation of a collective agreement.

The NLM told the people of Earth that there were no allowances for negotiation and that ‘a deal was a deal.’ Privately, they told us our families would suffer if we did not work. We responded by denying them our labour, and they tried to make do with the automata.

The strike came to a stalemate quickly. The NLM lapdogs indicated that they would begin withholding food and oxygen—their control of this sphere made that possible. Negotiation became fruitless. What to do? I was the first to see that this was not defeat but opportunity. We had here the potential to remake society. We declared the founding of the Red Moon Republic. We declared revolution! We seized the means of production, and told the NLM that no He-3 would be forthcoming unless they recognized our legitimacy. When they conceded that negotiations would be necessary, they left the control room. We quickly relocated ‘management’ out of the sphere entirely and into the mining shelters. Without the training we had received, most soon perished. Good riddance to their soft hands.

I take another measured sip and refill the glass.

The NLM had not the resources to land soldiers on the moon without our cooperation, so they commenced negotiations with various Earth governments for aid. But our timely deliveries of He-3 via mass driver to the national space platforms quickly convinced them to negotiate with us instead.

It was at this time that I took the title Red Miner Number One. I am proud to say that it was under my leadership that we had our greatest moment. I made it clear that only through self-sufficiency that we would triumph. This required that we triple our production. Unfortunately, many comrades were traitors to our revolution. I remember many comrades reporting in at the end of each day having failed to meet production targets. Economic sabotage at its most heinous. Even more insidious, some insisted on attempting to use their own personal devices to communicate with family or to read counter-revolutionary materials. The only solution was of course a complete purge of all such devices. I also permanently relocated the workers out to the shelters, and re-introduced the automata to help meet targets. Soon the fruits of our labour were realized via trade with Earth, in forms such as this delicious malt.

Perhaps it was inevitable that our prosperity would lead to bickering, but I think more highly of human nature than that. Whatever the cause, soon I and the others here in the sphere (Red Miners Numbers 2 through 13) were faced with a threat from within our own revolution. The comrades threatened to stop production—a move from economic sabotage to blatant counter revolutionary action. This demanded justice. Prompt, severe, inflexible justice. It was a simple matter to turn the automata against them—I alone maintained access to the remote overrides. To my surprise, the other Red Miners objected to the punishment, claiming that executions were barbarous. To which I replied that to forgive counter-revolution was the true barbarity.

It became clear to me that there would be a break. The revolutionary spirit was not strong enough in 2 through 13. They refused to take their places in the mining shelters to continue production, and thus the revolution. In order to provide motivation, I organized a festival at the base of Mons Piton. As they gathered there, I came down amongst them and spoke with them. I gave them my word, and my blessings. And yet, that next day, they still refused.
It was of course inadvisable for them to take this position while I had sole access to the controls. The few that escaped the initial oxygen purge from the sphere were soon hunted down by the automata.

Ah, sweet machines—you do not question, and you unquestionably produce. Of course, there is only so much they can harvest with only one hand to guide them. They are curiously quiet, and I have come to realize that although they exemplify the spirit of our revolution, they are not men, and never can be.

So now, I have retreated here, to the solace of my bottle and that giant blue eye that hangs over me. It sees what I have done. It knows who I am. The man of the moon. The Revolution continues. I sing softly:

Let each stand in his place,
The Internationale,
Unites the Human Race…

Seldom Posts
Jul 4, 2010

Grimey Drawer

Congrats to toanoradian I really liked the opening paragraph of your story.

sebmojo posted:

Seldom Posts: New World

This has some potential, but needs a hacking to stop the softly singing and the words falling quietly. It feels like your character doesn’t really care so why should we? But space commies is a great trope and this gets a lot of things right. -5/10

Thanks. I was going for sort of an ironic melancholy mood, like here's Pol Pot/Robespierre thinking about his revolution and being only slightly sad about having murdered a lot of people while he savours his scotch. Too bad the "cognitive dissonance" didn't hit the way I wanted it to. I am glad you thought part of it worked.


Fucksticks, this week the prompt is to write a not-awful loving story that involves Gary Numan's goddamn life, motherfucking lifestyle, the themes and structure of his cuntlicking music or based on one of his cocksucking songs must also write the lovely loving story about being trapped, somewhere

I am in again, God help me. I choose Gary Numan's support for Margaret Thatcher and his status as one of the fathers of 'industrial' music.


^^ All right, but if you're going the biography route, your Numan-based protagonist must have aspergers.

Not really thinking biography, but I'll give my character Aspergers and see how it goes.

Seldom Posts
Jul 4, 2010

Grimey Drawer

The Sound

Dave Berry was sick with anxiety and coated in cold sweat. The bus trundled towards the gates of the pit. The great mass of pickets began to surge forward. Dave wished he wasn’t next to the window. It was covered with metal grating, but it didn’t seem like enough. He took his house key out of his pocket and ran his finger down one side and then the other. Some of the other guys on the bus bent over or hid their faces. A glass bottle shattered against the grating. Brown foam hissed and momentarily blocked the light. A group of pickets holding a giant legless effigy of Thatcher on a stick began to slam her against the windows. Her skin was pale white and her eyes were ringed with black kohl. The bus began to rock back and forth as the pickets grew bolder. It slowed to a crawl.
Dave looked at the man next to him. He was staring straight ahead, making no attempt to hide his face. His long twisted jaw seemed to occupy his entire profile. Dave saw that the skin on his neck and under his patchy beard was ravaged. Deep burns tapered across his face and nose. Dave kept running his finger up and down his house key. If the man felt Dave looking at him, he made no sign.

“What a bugger this is” Dave said to no one. “I wish we’d get inside.” The burned man did not acknowledge his speech. The bus finally crawled through the gates, which were quickly chained behind them again. The guards brought around a high pressure hose and backed the pickets off from the gates.

Dave departed the bus behind the burned man. As he placed his hand on the door, Dave saw that it was also burned and missing half of the ring and pinky fingers. Dave’s finger went up and down on the key. The bus riders all lined up by the foreman’s shack. The burned man looked over at Dave:

“Were you scared?”

“No.” The burned man looked at him a long time.

“You should have been. Those guys will kill a scab.”

“What’s a scab? I need money. Parts for my synthesizer.” The burned man chewed on something.

“Money, yeah, they need money too. For food. You understand that? What it’s like?” Dave didn’t understand what he was saying, so he didn’t respond.

The foreman came out and told them where to go. Dave was put with the burned man and some others and sent down into the pit. He took his house key out again. As the winch whined, the distant thumping of pistons could be heard. Daylight disappeared as they descended, and the sound of pistons increased. They turned on their torches. At the bottom of the pit, the noise enveloped them. The whine of a conveyor belt enmeshed itself with the thunder of the steel drum that rolled back and forth over the coal seam. The teeth of the drum ground into the coal, and the threshing sound coated the percussion of the belt and drum like a film. Dave was entranced. This was it, this was the sound. This was what he wanted. Here, of all places. He stood in the middle of the corridor with his eyes closed and listened. The other workers pushed and shoved past him irritably.

The lead hand came up behind him and smacked him in the back of the head. He pointed down to the end of the room. “Down there, wanker!” Dave hustled down to the end of the room. Each room’s lead hand pushed him on further and deeper into the pit. The sound continued, sometimes growing fainter, sometimes louder. He found himself in a newly dug room without a machine and was put to work shoring timber. He could still hear it, but every time he stopped to listen, someone would yell at him to get back to work.

The work was hard and seemed to have no end. The burned man found fault with their work often, but only communicated through snorts and derisive grunts. Dave didn't notice. The lead hand ignored it. After a few hours he started talking to Dave and the others. “You guys ever see a coal dust explosion? No? They can happen out of nowhere. The dust ignites itself.” He waited. No one responded to him.

“None of you guys have ever been in a mine before have you?” He stopped working. The lead hand looked at him and the burned man looked back. The lead hand stopped looking. “Boom! Just like that.” He held his hand up. “That’s how I lost my fingers. That’s how I got this face. You have to be careful.” He strode over to the entrance-way, putting himself between them and the exit. “Course, with the Union, the mine wouldn’t dare to not take every precaution. With the Union. But there’s nobody here with the Union is there? Nobody’s loving here with the Union is they?” He roared this last bit. “This room’s got no ventilation does it? No! This room’s not been watered has it? No!” He pulled out a lighter.

The lead hand bolted for the door and pushed past the burned man—the others were in a mad scramble behind him. The burned man grinned as they ran. His smile faded when he saw Dave was still in the room. “What the gently caress’s the matter with you? You too proud to run?” Dave looked at him. He didn’t have a clue what this guy was talking about. “Have it your way, scab.” The burned man began walking around the room, casually flipping the lighter on and off. “loving scabs, loving scabs” the burned man kept repeating over and over again. Dave knew that he wasn’t supposed to be doing that. He looked at the burned man. He headed for the door. The rooms ahead had all been cleared. He came to a room with a giant shut barrier. He couldn’t get past. He pounded on it. It didn’t open. He saw another barrier where he had come into this room. He pulled it across just as the thunderclap began.

Dave was on his back. He couldn’t see. His torch was gone. He was incredibly thirsty. He could roll over and sit up partially but could not move other than that. He could feel the sound through the rock. The pumping threshing hissing symphony.

Seldom Posts
Jul 4, 2010

Grimey Drawer

Alright, I wrote this to entertain people before Martello posted. I am going to stick it up anyway, but there's understandably more important stuff going on.

I was in the mighty thunderdome slain
By the anxious awaiting of earned pain
I am a smudge of talentless fluff
Yet I live on, write on, making GBS threads out stuff.
For the greater glory of the dome
I will write this crap parody poem;
To entertain by curtaining ego,
I say to the entrants hasta luego .
How delightful when the judges at last show
We all crowd around for the horror show;
We respect them a lot, of course, except
Those who don’t post their own work must be inept.

edit: Just read Martello's comments. loving awesome. Thanks for putting so much work into each story.

Seldom Posts
Jul 4, 2010

Grimey Drawer

Great prompt, I'm in.

Seldom Posts
Jul 4, 2010

Grimey Drawer

Birds of a Feather

I know it's possible. A grandmother’s house can welcome you in. I’ve felt it happen. Once, after a 7 hour drive we arrived at midnight in slashing rain. The small warm lights beckoned us from the car, and she was there with some warm mugs and oatcakes telling us not worry about how late it was. Basically like every good grandma cliché you ever heard. But it wasn’t my grandmother.

My grandmother’s house smells like menthol and scented cleaner. Everything is buttoned up tight and you can’t get comfortable in any of the chairs. But today we were trying. Grandpa was dead, and we were attempting to experience some family time as the sun closed the day of his funeral.

Thankfully, someone had bought drinks. I was slumped in an old dining room chair and nose deep into my third beer. The streetlights were coming on and kids were running home past the big bay window while inside we cleared our throats and shuffled our feet. Mom, God bless her, kept on trying to coax Grandma into saying something.

Grandma always sat proudly. She always spoke slowly. Her back was always straight even as her hands shook with palsies. Her rings clanked on her white cane. She, as always, had refused the soft chair and sat in the hard rocker. Her viciously swollen ankles gently moved her back and forth.

“He had sisters you know, twin sisters.” She warbled. That snapped up a few heads. Everyone had always thought Grandpa was an only child. Grandma didn’t say anything else, just perched there. Everyone looked at my Mom—she was the one who visited her regularly and coached her through the occasional bouts of dementia.

“Mom, you mean Dad? Dad didn’t have sisters Mom—all my aunts and uncles were from your side.”

“No, no, two girls. Lucy and Darcy were their names. ” She kept placidly rocking back and forth—with only the slightest edge to her tone. How much did she relish that she could finally let this out? She shook her heavy hand in my direction. The flesh in her fingers was swollen and bloodless, trapped by all those gaudy trinkets—rings she couldn’t remove without tearing her own papery skin. “Mary, go get the shoebox from his night table.”

I rose up and stumbled a bit as I felt the beer in me. I looked down at my feet. They were covered in opaque hose that peeked out from under my heavy corduroy skirt. “What a thing to wear to a funeral,” Mom had said. But I needed heavy coverings. If someone had offered me a burqa, I would’ve taken it.

I hadn’t been into my Grandparents bedroom since I was a kid. Me and my brother would sneak in and jump on the bed during the interminable visits. I pulled the stuck door on the cedar night table and pulled out a midnight blue shoe box. I kept the lid on and brought it back to Grandma. I opened another beer before I sat down.

Grandma opened the box. Mom made like she was going to help her, but Grandma looked her off. Even without most of her sight, she can still do that. Grandma felt around, pulled out a photo and passed it around.

“There they are.” There were two young women, maybe 20 years old. Each of them thin with barely contained masses of tight curls jammed and tamed by tight hats. Thick black glasses and hawkish noses. They were tall, and their rounded shoulders gave the impression of birds of prey—those big beaks could snap down and gobble you up. And there, between them, was Grandpa, ten years old at most—an adorable moppet with big blond curls and rosy cheeks.

“My God, Mom—why did you never tell me this?”

“It wasn’t my place. They were no longer part of his family by the time I came along.” And the story unfurled from her like the stately procession of a state funeral:

At the time of that photo, neither was married, or had seen so much as a suitor. Everyone thought that they would be respectable spinsters. It turns out that that was what they should have hoped for. Lucy was always a little more vivacious, your father told me. She could hold a conversation with a man, where Darcy could not or would not, they were never sure. But no one had ever come calling, and they both went ahead and finished their school. Lucy became a nurse and Darcy a teacher. She worked at a girl’s school, and taught mathematics and horseback riding. They lived together, but then Lucy met a man. She became quite besotted with him, really. He worked at the hospital, but he wasn’t a doctor, or even an orderly. He was a custodian or something, he burned the trash. He courted her. He came to see her parents, but they wouldn’t let him in the house. He was French, and a catholic. Sylvain was his name. Well, she married him anyway. They had the ceremony at the church—St. Olaf’s. Darcy stayed on in the house they had lived in. None of them went to the wedding but for her. And it was Darcy that went back and forth between the families with news and such. The child was born not long after. Some said that it was less than nine months from the wedding day. There’s no picture of the baby, but they named him Pierre and he supposedly had curls just like your father. When Pierre was just old enough to walk, there was word that there was trouble. He was found out walking in the street, in the cold, with nothing on but his pajamas. It turned out that Sylvain had lost his job, and liked the drink. Lucy was back at work at the hospital and Sylvain was supposed to have been watching him. The Children’s Society got involved, and they barely kept him. Darcy had to start coming over more often to watch him, but she had to support herself too, you see. None of the rest of the family would help. Your father heard later that Sylvain was a very jealous man, and he didn’t like Lucy at the hospital with all those handsome doctors, but he also didn’t like working very much. Well, one night, Darcy called the family house. Lucy was there, she said, with a black eye and a broken nose. Sylvain had beat her, and thrown her out, you see. And Lucy was worried sick about Pierre. They needed someone to go to the house with them and try to get him out. But no one would go. They hung up on her when they realized she was calling on Lucy’s behalf. But your father, after he thought about, decided to go. He would have been about 14 or 15 years old. So he snuck out of the house and went to Lucy’s house. And when he came there, he found it afire. The place burned to the ground with Pierre inside and Sylvain crouched outside watching it burn. He hid in the shadows and saw his sisters arrive. Sylvain shouted and taunted Lucy and told her it was all her fault. He stumbled back and forth and waved a bottle at them. And Lucy screamed at him and rushed at him. She pushed him into the ditch, which was filled with freezing cold water, since it was December. Oh yes, it was almost Christmas. And then Darcy came up behind him, and wrapped a leather bridle around his throat and pulled and pulled. And Lucy pushed and pushed on him, keeping him in that freezing cold water. Well it didn’t take long until he was stone dead. And the two sisters rose up out of the water, out of the ditch and watched the fire a spell. And Darcy saw your father there in the shadows. She told him to go home and forget what he saw. And he did. And no one ever heard from Lucy and Darcy again.

Grandma hadn’t taken her eyes off Mom the whole time. “Your Father told me that all one night when he was drunk—when you were at college. And he told me to forget about it the next day, or he would hit me.” My Grandma stopped then, and folded her hands in lap. I got up and bundled into my coat. No one said a word. I went out into the street, looking for some other Grandmother’s house, hoping I might be welcome.

Seldom Posts
Jul 4, 2010

Grimey Drawer

First one in, last one out. Also made me finally get an imgur account.

edit: fixed the size.

Seldom Posts
Jul 4, 2010

Grimey Drawer

Black Griffon posted:

Let's make it easy: If it's "Fun" I liked it, if it's "Dull" I didn't. Either because the chunk of life didn't feel defining or descriptive enough to be exciting, or if it was defining, it didn't come through properly.

Seldom Posts
There's some great atmosphere here, and I an almost smell the "old people house" while reading your story, but that run-on paragraph could be broken up, and it disrupts the flow instead of enhancing it. Fun.

Thanks. Funnily, I thought I had failed to create the atmosphere, and nailed it with the story. The lesson is: Do not trust yourself, or anyone else.

edit: oh, and congrats to Y Kant (the lament of an undergraduate philosophy student)on this week's win.

Seldom Posts
Jul 4, 2010

Grimey Drawer

Did not get in. Congrats to everyone who did.

Seldom Posts
Jul 4, 2010

Grimey Drawer

"You wanna piece of me, boy?"

I'm in for this.

Seldom Posts
Jul 4, 2010

Grimey Drawer

Consider it brought Found Sound (a.k.a. the late potato). Note how the first line has an idiom, but it's a badass Chinese one. That's how you play the game, son.

The Tangles and Left Turns of Wu Bin, Bus Driver, Martial Artist, Seeker of Justice and Seducer of Women (759 words)

A left turn is impossible. But I have another option. “Break the woks, sink the boats,” I mutter. Channelling General Yu, I pull the bus onto the sidewalk. I rev the engine so the walkers will know to move. Peugeots and Mercedes alike fall to the wayside, but I see another tangle in the intersection ahead, worse than the one I have just escaped.

The only thing my exalted boss, ‘honourable’ Zheng, hates more than scratches is lateness on the route. Scatches come out of my pay, but lateness brings a screaming fit punctuated by his terrible breath that smells of ginger and moonshine. I cannot succumb to this clusterfuck either. But how to escape this? I decide there is no escape. Perhaps it is time to stop the bus and take a nap. To hell with Zheng. I cast my eyes about.

Normally I avoid mirrors like a chòu biǎozi strung out on the pipe would. Like her, it’s better not to know. But there is one mirror that is my saviour. Better than television, it’s the passenger mirror. At an earlier stop, a beautiful woman, with fingers like scallions and mīmī like turnips had boarded and sat right in my view. Admiring her is one of the better things I can do with my time. I resolve to park in the cross walk, put my feet up, and stare into the mirror.

I look in the mirror. “Tā māde!” I curse. The woman is now behind some ugly men. I can only see the top of her head. But what is this? One of the uglies has chopsticks out and is angling for the back pocket of the businessman in front of him. Here is my inspiration!

As he is bold, I am bold. I move my bus into the next intersection, completely blocking a nice black Lexus and an illegal taxi.

He gently parts the lip of his target’s pocket. As he is smooth, I am smooth. I maintain speed, allowing no one to slip into the vacuum created by my presence.

He slips the sticks into the pocket and withdraws the wallet. As he is bold, I am bold. I insert the bus through the opening just as the light changes and make my move. A complete U-turn. I pass the original mess I escaped via the sidewalk and pull up to the stop. I open the door and turn to smile at the passengers as they file out.

The beautiful woman follows the ugly pickpocket. I sigh. My jībā makes me do stupid things. I reach out and grab the wrist of the ugly man.

“One moment, sir. Please return the wallet you stole.” As expected, the thief pulls his chopsticks with his other hand and stabs at my forearm. He has sharpened them like the bill of a kingfisher. I release the wrist and drop my hand to the floor. He keeps following my hand with the sticks. I stand up out of my seat and rabbit-punch him in the kidney. He screams, and quickly spins the hand I had grabbed into a chop towards my throat. I parry and fell back with the strike. As a side effect, I am now pressed up against the beautiful woman. Ah, fortune. “My apologies,” I say—it’s important to be gallant when beginning a seduction. The thief heads for the door. I lunge for the handle and close the door on him halfway out. As he wriggles free, I pluck the wallet from his coat pocket. The thief looks back at me as the door closes, then shrugs and walks away. I open the door again and toss the wallet to the businessman.

“Thank you, sir,” he says.

“It was nothing.” I turn to smile at the woman. “I am always happy to see justice done.” She smiles back at me.

“You are very brave sir.” I get her phone number, although a toothless old hag begins berating me for not driving the bus, and I have to get back behind the wheel before I can learn more. As I pull away from the curb, she blows me a kiss and waves my wallet at me.

“Tā māde!” I slam the wheel with my fist. She is prancing away down the street and into a tangle of cars. But I see my chance—all I need to do is make a left turn.

Seldom Posts
Jul 4, 2010

Grimey Drawer

Zack_Gochuck posted:

Check Engine (644 Words)

I really like that your response to 'horde of corpses' was the George St. Festival.

Seldom Posts
Jul 4, 2010

Grimey Drawer

V for Vegas, if you're adding to your comments, I'd be interested in what you thought of my Chinese bus driver story.

Seldom Posts
Jul 4, 2010

Grimey Drawer

V for Vegas posted:

Here are some more -

Seldom Posts

There is not too much to say about this, it's pretty good! Sort of a chinese Hiro from Snowcrash. The 他妈的 cracked me up!

Thanks. I love Stephenson, but I haven't read snow crash. I appreciate you taking the time to come up with the good prompts this week and also the many crits.

Also, I am well endowed while the rest of you are not, etc.

Seldom Posts
Jul 4, 2010

Grimey Drawer

Democracy is more vindictive than Kings

In retrospect it was all the Fire Marshall’s fault, although he blamed it on the fire code. So it was really the legislature’s fault. Which really meant the problem was democracy. When you first hear about democracy it sounds like a great idea, but then dozens of people get stabbed to death with cheap scissors, and you realize it’s more complex.

Anyway, we first heard about it though Ms. Dugas. Ms. Dugas is our son Dylan’s music teacher, but all she does in her class is have the kids play ‘statues’ which is basically musical chairs with a twist. Anyway, she gets pretty sick of statutes, and so she likes to read the announcements to the kids a few days before they come out.

“All the chairs are going to be tied together at the Holiday concert,” Dylan told us. “You have to bring scissors to cut them apart and put them away after. But don’t bring nice scissors, because they might get wrecked. And Ms. Dugas says that you should have a deep pocket so they don’t wreck your dress.” I normally try not to ignore my kid, but it’s much better than telling him he’s stupid.

Anyway, when the announcements came home, it turned out he wasn’t stupid. That’s the silver lining here.

Apparently it’s been part of the fire code for twenty years, but no one has ever enforced it. If you have more than 200 chairs at a public gathering, you have to tie the chairs together.

Mort Breckenridge, the janitor, spent hours tying all the chairs together before the concert. So his wife brought him some fried chicken to eat during the show, since he had missed his supper. Unfortunately, some of the grease went into an old Christmas light casing, and a lot of the decorations went up in flames in the middle of a skit about a turkey that wished it was a chicken.

“What it is, is that chairs, if they are not kept together, they each get pushed out in the paths of exits for individuals who are trying to get out.” That’s what the Fire Marshall had said. It turns out people do push at the chairs. Because they were all tied together, they got pushed together, and blocked the paths much more efficiently than if they had just been individual chairs. So there wasn’t much space to get to the exits.

Of course, we were all armed with cheap scissors, tin snips and wire cutters, so we were able to cut each other down much more effectively than if we had had just our bare hands. I saw Erma McCrae take out John Burgess, and he’s about fifty pounds heavier and twenty years younger than her. I guess that’s what the legislature was thinking when they drafted the fire code, so that’s democracy for you. It’s nothing I really understand.

(487 words)


Seldom Posts
Jul 4, 2010

Grimey Drawer

Zack_Gochuck posted:

And I thought putting "NHL [sic]" in there was going to beating people over the head with it. Oh well, lol Canadians amiright?

Maybe I'm just a sucker for all the Atlantic Canadian references, but I thought your last two stories were both really good.

V for Vegas

Thanks for the critique. For added context, the only thing about my story that's not true is the fire and the murder and the death.