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Feb 15, 2005

Chairchucker posted:

Jonked - What Else Can You Do
I didn't really like it. I think the weirdness with tenses annoyed me too much to get into it.
Yeah, fair enough. The original version of the story fell kind of flat for me with a bunch of expository "Six months ago...", so I figured I'd try something new and daring. I wasn't really happy with the result, but at least it came off as intentional, so I guess that's a win in my book.


Feb 15, 2005

Oh what the hell is this I guess I'm in.

Feb 15, 2005

California, 883 words

He held the pistol almost casually, aimed near but not at the woman the table. He gave the situation a good long look, then stepped the rest of the way inside his cabin.

Inside, away from the sun, he could see her better. She was youngish, and pretty, underneath the road dust. Her clothes looked like they had started their life as an elegant gown back East, hemmed and patched towards practicality on her travels. He didn't see a weapon. She seemed to be alone.

He kept the pistol pointed - not on her, but close.

"I don't know you," he said quietly.

"Just a traveler," she replied, careful to keep her hands visible. "Just looking for a place to stay the night."

"I don't see any rain clouds up there. It's still summer 'round here."

The young woman didn't say anything. Just stared at him with bright green eyes.

"What you take?" The man asked.

Slowly, the woman lowered her hands to her pack, and pulled out a small knap sack. Five big pieces of hard tack and a handful of jerky. She placed it on the table.

"You'd hardly know it was gone," she said. "Most men don't, out here."

He holstered the pistol, and sat down across from her, the small meal of rations between them. "Seems a dangerous trade for some biscuits."

"Not as much as you'd think. Most men, I remind them of their first love, that bonny Irish lass. Not you though."

He looked away, embarrassed. "Where you headed?"

"West," she replied.

"In particular?"

"Just West."

"Not much more West to go, you know," he said, glancing back at her. "Just California."

"Then I guess that'll be far enough."

Silence settled over the secluded cabin after that, the result of two taciturn people together. It was a strange silence, starting off awkward and stifling. But as time went on and neither had anything to say, the silence settled in, got itself comfortable, put itself at ease. These were two people used to living with silence, well-practiced.

After a long while, he stood up and looked out the doorway. The shadows were drawing long, and soon his small cabin would be swallowed up by the darkness of the nearby mountains. It was warm, and the air was sweet, but night was rapidly approaching. He shut the door. He stood there for a moment, his hand still on the door latch, listening to her breathing behind him. There was no use for it - he turned, and picked up the small packet of food. Turning to his small oven, he started making a meal - the tack and meat, with some beans and carefully roasted coffee besides. The girl sat quietly, unobtrusive, as he cooked. He made them both a nice enough meal.

"What you think, you're wrong, you know," she said as he put the meal before him. "About what happened back East."

"You don't know what I think," he said curtly, sitting before his own meal.

"But I know whatever it is, it's not how it went down. There was no... well, no matter what you think, it's wrong."

He glared at her. "I'm not a preacher, I don't take confessions. What happened is your business."

She shut her mouth with an audible snap, and stared at her food. Apparently hunger won out over anger, and she was tucking in like a famished dog. The man was barely half way through his own meal by the time she finished. Then again, he had eaten just this morning, not as much room for the food to go. She sat there, for a moment, watching him.

"You've ever been married, Sir?" She asked.

He was silent, his spoon halfway to his mouth. "Yes," he said eventually.

"Really? Not what I expected. But not a girl like me, I take it?"

He went back to eating for a while, and the girl didn't press him. He finished his biscuit and beans, and looked up with red, world-beaten eyes. "I was married once, in Alabama. The Klan didn't approve. I headed out West to escape my troubles. I'm not married anymore."

"And this was far enough?"

"It had to be. There was only California left."

She looked down at her plate, in her elegant gown turned travel wear, her face covered in dirt and dust. "It's not far enough West for me. Not yet."

"Well, you've got some room still to go."

They stayed quiet for the rest of the night, back in that easy, simple silence of two histories too painful to share. He let her put her bed roll near the oven, and turned out the light. He didn't sleep for a good long while. He wasn't used to hearing another person breath in the lonely dark.

It was just after dawn when he woke. The girl was gone by then, with a few biscuits, about a pound of dry meat, a canteen and rum bottle. A handful of nails, his hammer, and an old, worn down saddle were gone too. Each alone wouldn't be missed, but a decent pillage when taken together. He tried not to begrudge her. He tried not to hate her for the memories she invoked.

He hoped she'd find her place in California.

So, yeah, I never finished my chickencheese poem. I kind of ran out of steam after describing the "chthonic root, that onion" and not being able to figure out where the stresses in chthonic or onion go. I got a picture of the chickencheese the poem was about if the judges still want to see it.

Feb 15, 2005

The man who fears war and squats opposing
My words for stour, hath no blood of crimson
But is fit only to rot in womanly peace
Far from where worth's won and swords clash
For the death of such sluts I go rejoicing
Yea, I fill all the air with my music.

(I'm in)

Feb 15, 2005

Jeza posted:

Gonna eat your bones and wear your skin as a stylish cape and cap combo, Jonked.
Jeza, I'm going to let you in on a little secret. I don't edit. I don't plan ahead. Literally every story I wrote for the the thunderdome, I've written within hours of the deadline. But for you?

For you, I've already started writing.

Feb 15, 2005

Hey Jeza I know you think you're hot poo poo because you won once but lemme drop some goddamn knowledge on your head like it's hailing encyclopedias: you're not. Also I've got to work a double tomorrow so be aware that any weak-rear end back talk you attempt won't be read until after the deadline has passed anyway.

A Family Mythology, 2010 words

The young children bounded into the room, laughing and yelling. They crowded around the old man, sitting in his chair. He wasn’t that old, of course, not really, not in the ways that matter. He was in his mid-sixties, but was still spry and sharp, and quick on his feet. He smiled down at them, full of paternal pride.

“Yeye! Yeye! Tell us the story! Tell us the story!”

The grandfather motioned them to settle down, settle down, take your seats. He pulled out an old cigar. He didn’t light it, of course – his sons disapproved of smoking around the children. He just kept it handy, occasionally placing it in his mouth, or behind his ear, or simply holding it between his fingers. He began to tell the story – the greatest story of his life. The story of the Hole.

“I was a young man, back then, in the year of 1966. It was late summer, then. I was a successful poet, very successful. I had a fellowship at the Huizhou University. Oh, how I loved the city! I would walk besides the Pearl River, and think up very good poems. The local people, they loved my poems, because I wrote in Hakka. I was very popular, and many people were happy to say I was their friend. But I was also very lonely, because I had nobody to love. My parents – your great-grandparents – had died during the Revolution, and I had no siblings. So even though I was very successful and popular, I was also sad at times. My only true friend was a British administrator in Hong Kong named Sam. We had never met, but we were pen pals. We would constantly send each other poems. So I would walk by the river, and think up wonderful new poems for Sam, and the local people would love them.”

“But not all things could always be so happy. Mao Zedong, he was the leader of China at the time, and he had announced the Destruction of the Four Olds campaign - Old Customs, Old Culture, Old Habits, and Old Ideas. Although I was a young man, I had a very old soul, so this was very hard for me. My poems were written in the classical style, and were written in Hakka. This would not do. If I was to be successful and popular, I needed to have new ideas. So I had written a poem in Mandarin, and had rejected all the strictures of Shi. I thought it was a very bold and courageous idea, and was very proud of it.”

“So I was feeling very pleased with myself when my dean came in. He was furious! ‘You idiot!’ he said, ‘You moron! How could you be so thick-headed!’ And he was pacing back and forth, waving his arms around, calling me very mean names. Finally, I interrupted him, and asked him why he was so angry.”

“’Zhihong Yu read your poem! He thought it was a vicious satire, that it was making fun of how Mao Zedong speaks in his speeches. He has declared you a capitalist roader and a counter-revolutionary.’ Zhihong Yu was the leader of the local Red Guard, and was a very powerful young man. I do not think he liked me very much, although I don’t know why. But everybody was afraid of him! I remember the look on my dean’s face, he was so sad. He looked like he could cry. He shook his head, and said – ‘Go home. You are on indefinite leave for suspicions of treason.’ So I gathered up my things – my poems and my letters, and I started walking home. “

“Oh! What misfortune! The people had heard about what Zhihong Yu had said, so people who had once loved me, now shunned me. Nobody would look at me, or talk to me. It was like I was a ghost. It was so sad, I nearly cried. I did not know what I was going to do. But my troubles had only just begun. I was walking by a construction site, where an old, old temple had been. It had been such a beautiful building, but now it was ruined and torn down. All that remained was a huge hole, that was very deep. I had written Sam a very beautiful poem about that temple and that hole.”

“The hole! The hole! You fell in the hole!” yelled the youngest child. His siblings quickly hushed him, and the old man resumed his story.

“Yes, I ended up in the hole. But I didn’t fall, I was pushed! You see, Zhihong Yu had laid a trap for me. Him and the rest of his cadre rushed out of nowhere, and began to loudly berate me. The street was very busy, so all the people could see me. The Red Guard would yell at me and interrupt me, not giving me a chance to defend myself. I tried to explain how my poem was a New Idea, but they wouldn’t listen. All the people simply stopped and stared.”

“Then they started pushing me and hitting me. It was like I was trapped in the middle of a tornado. I got so dizzy and confused, I couldn’t see where the sky and the ground were. Then somebody pushed me very hard, and I tripped. I went flying, flying through the air, and nobody was there to stop me. So I went flying, flying right into the hole. THUMP!”

The grandchildren all gasped, even the ones who had heard the story before.

“All the young people in the Red Guard, they were very shocked. They hadn’t meant to push me in the hole, it was an accident. And falling in the hole hurt very badly, and I couldn’t breathe. When I looked up out of the hole, all I saw was black and yellow spots. My back and head hurt a lot too. The people who pushed me in, they just stared in shock for a moment, then they started yelling how they were going to throw me down a ladder and get me out.”

“But Zhihong Yu said No! He told them not to get me a ladder. I remember, he said ‘Let the poet build a ladder out of words if he’s so great,’ and he also said ‘The capitalist roaders are like snakes, and should hide away in holes.’ All the people heard this, and were afraid of Zhihong Yu, so nobody was willing to help me out of that hole. Instead, they left me alone.”

“I stayed in that hole for two days. The nights were cold, and I worried I would freeze to death. The days were hot, and the sun burnt my skin. On the first day, I would call out for help until my voice was hoarse, but nobody would help me. So on the second day I was very, very sad, and I started saying poems. I would yell them out very loud, so that the people on the street could hear them. Sometimes a person would stop and listen to my poem, and if he liked it a lot, he would throw me down some water, so I could drink. Other times, they wouldn’t like the poem, and would throw trash at me instead. So that’s how the second day went.”

“Then, very late at night, one of the Red Guards with Zhihong Yu came to the hole. She was very sneaky and cautious, and made sure nobody could see her. She threw down a bit of rope, and whispered that she liked my poems very much. I whispered back ‘Thank you!’ and tried to climb up the rope, but I was very tired, so it took a very long time. By the time I was out of the hole, she had disappeared. But she left me a Red Guard uniform, and a bit of identification saying I was allowed to travel where ever I wanted. I was very thankful.”

“I knew exactly where I wanted to go. I could not stay in Huizhou, because Zhihong Yu hated me so much and was so powerful. So I began walking west and south, towards Hong Kong. It was a very, very long journey, and sometimes I was afraid I would never make it. I remember I met an old farmer, and he let me ride in his cart. I would tell him poems and he would say, ‘I don’t understand poetry. Tell me another one, maybe I’ll understand it.’ I told him all the poems I knew, and he didn’t understand any of them, but seemed very happy anyway. So who can say?”

“But finally, after many, many days of walking, I made it to Hong Kong. I knew I needed to find my only true friend in the world, Sam. But I also knew that I looked like a vagabond, who had stolen a communist uniform. That’s because I was! So instead, I did something very bad and shameful. I snuck into a bath house, and I washed all the dirt off me. Then, I snuck into the lockers, and stole somebody’s business suit! I felt so ashamed, even today I feel guilty. Some poor man, he goes to relax in the nice warm water, and when he comes out, a vagabond has stolen his clothes! Listen closely, children. Stealing is very wrong. If you take something, the person you stole from is hurt by it. So try to not ever steal, understand?”

“So, clean and nice smelling, in my brand new – well, new to me – suit in the Western style, I went out into Hong Kong. All I had was a name, Sam, and an address in the Central District. I was very nervous, you see, because I had never met Sam in person before, even though they were my only friend in the world. So I took a deep breath, prepared myself, and gently knocked on the door.”

“The woman who opened the door was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. She was as glorious as the summer sun, and twice as radiant. I was so bashful, I couldn’t say anything at first, and merely stared at my feet and shuffled. She became very annoyed with me, and demanded to know what I wanted, but I was too shy to talk. So, instead, I handed her the letter I had written to Sam. She yelled with excitement and ripped open the letter, fervently reading every word I had written. Then I realized my mistake.”

“After she read the letter, she looked at me, and demanded to know how I got it. I stammered for a bit, and finally managed to say in broken English that I had written it. She didn’t understand me at first, so I said it again, but I stuttered so much that she still didn’t understand me. She was starting to lose patience with me, so I did the only thing I could.”

“In haze the green hills half hidden, to afar the waters flow;
Though late in autumn in Southland, its grass is yet to yellow.
A night of bright moonlight o'er Bridges Twenty-Four, just
Where are you flaunting your flute, my handsome good fellow.”

“It was your grandmother’s favorite poem, she had told me so in a letter. I knew it by heart, and had recited it so many times, my voice didn’t stutter. Then, she instantly knew who I was. That, my children, is the story of the hole, and how I met your grandmother. We were married soon after, and we moved here to Oxford. In England, I became a popular and successful poet, and I had the love of a beautiful woman. So remember, if you ever find yourself in a hole, do not lose hope. Yell out poetry, and you might find yourself even better off.”

“Come get your snacks,” Nai Nai called from the kitchen, and the children ran off, leaving their grandfather alone in his happy memories. He stepped outside to the light the old cigar.

Feb 15, 2005

Jeza posted:

'Grats Jonked, my last second botch-job of a story deservedly lost. Good luck in flaying the other winners and bring me back a skin cape.
You know how knights would fight on somebody's else behalf at tournaments? It'll be like that, but with a Davidian pile of foreskins.

I liked your story a lot

Feb 15, 2005

I can't do Humorous, how about Bitter Mockery instead?, 500 words

“Look, the simple fact is, chickens are the descendants of raptors, right?” Private Yellow yelled out over the roar of the helicopter blades. “And those were some drat mean motherfucking dinosaurs, right? And you’ve got, you know, cock fights. Stick to chickens together, two roosters, in a pit together and they’ll murder each other. They’re mean-spirited, murderous motherfuckers are the descendants of goddamn killers. That’s all I’m saying. So why the hells do we call somebody who’s cowardly a chicken?”

“Shut the gently caress up, Yellow, and check your gear,” hollered Sargent Caitiff from the other end of the APC. Yellow talked too much before combat, which didn’t suit Caitiff well, considering how mean he’d get before the unit saw action. “Y’all know the drill, fuckers, we’re going in hot!”

Lt. Poltroon stood up at the far end, his steely gaze moving slowly across each individual under his command. “This will be a search and retrieval mission. Our objective is Flan Wa Elan, a suspected terrorist mastermind. We have no concrete description, but believe me; we’ll know him when we see him. Mouse, Rabbit, Skulker, you’re going to be in A Team with me. Yellow, Shirk, Recreant, you’re in B Team with Caitiff. We go in hard and fast. ETA is one minute, so double checking everything!”

They checked everything – ammunition, weapons, armor, radios, rations, canteens, boots, everything. Some sat quietly, praying for their god’s deliverance and guidance. Others prepared themselves mentally with rock music and mental images of blood and carnage, yelling at each other to get their blood pumping. The mood in the APC was tense, as sharp as a razor trip wire, hemmed in on all sides by the half-foot thick steel. Finally, they reached their destination.

The Fighting Hawks stormed out of the vehicle, guns blazing. The local militia, poorly trained and not expecting the fierce raid could do little but scatter and find cover before the valiant assault. A few resisters took an occasional pot shot with their pistols and hunting rifles, but for the most part they cowardly hid away from the brave soldiers. Within minutes, they had penetrated deep into the central compound. There, they found the notorious Elan, disguised as a janitor. They took him into custody, and blasted their way back out to the APC.

Perhaps they had gotten a bit cocky and inattentive. Perhaps the enemy was just lucky. Who can say in the horrors of war? All Private Yellow knew was that the rock had been razor sharp, a bit of shattered obsidian perhaps, and had cut into his forehead like a knife. He screamed in shock, pain, terror, as the bloody gash impaired his eye sight.

Feb 15, 2005

Chairchucker posted:

For anyone who is hesitant to join in on this, I invite you to glance at the picture just to the left of this post. That is the ABSOLUTE WORST that can possibly happen to you as a consequence of joining in. There is very little reason to hold back.
IIRC I thought Chairchucker won the first round (OG!), there's a lot of really good writers here. The bar is literally a skeezy rear end creeptastic story and also your name is Primoman in terms of "gently caress off, never come back"*.

*If you don't improve the judges will hate you forever.**

**I still sometimes wake up in cold sweats about the terrible stuff I submitted. My latest piece, for example. It's the worst take down of Tom Clancy I've ever seen, jesus christ what was I thinking. That piece could have been so much better, but gently caress. Next time.***

***It was specifically aimed at Rainbow Six but none of that came through and I wouldn't be surprised at all if I was declared the Loser of All Winners.****

****I still can't believe I enjoyed that book when I was young. Never meet your heroes and all that, I guess.

Feb 15, 2005

Chairchucker posted:

I don't understand most of this paragraph but I haven't won any rounds, although I have lost... I think three? And gotten most improved twice by virtue of losing horribly the week before.
You're a very good write, end quote.


Feb 15, 2005

Okay I guess I'm in.