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The Swinemaster
Dec 28, 2005

I'm joining these shenanigans.


The Swinemaster
Dec 28, 2005

Tugnok and the Rusty Scissors ~900 words

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Oyen Gurd?” he said.


“Oyen Gurd?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

The Swinemaster
Dec 28, 2005

Martello posted:

Hey Swinemaster! Good to have you with us. Your pig in high heels story was the first one I critiqued in the old daily writing thread soon after I joined the forum. That was a pretty legit story by the way. I think you'll fit right in here.

Cool AARC story by the way.

Thanks! I'll try to avoid getting my rear end roasted in the Thunderdome. But here's the part where I look stupid - what's an AARC story?

The Swinemaster
Dec 28, 2005

It's the only sensible answer.

The Swinemaster
Dec 28, 2005

I will do this.

The Swinemaster
Dec 28, 2005

Hate to be the first one and post so early, but here we are.

This a little story called:

Bonds (~700 words)

A tattered skeleton stumbled east. Kuyin walked slowly, stooped and resting often. The sun was a faint warm breath on the back of his neck, the sky an ashen dome. Ahead on the horizon lay the rubble of Kuyin’s destination. Behind and on either side the ground was unlittered with such debris. There, the flat meeting of red and gray receded into eternity.

Powdery dust kicked up around his heels, creating a moving cloud around him. As the sun fell to the horizon it spilled blood over the parched land and colored Kuyin’s faded rags. Against his bony back pressed a many-mended rucksack containing wizened roots and a desiccated carcass.

He passed amid the collection of deserted hovels surrounding his own. Some adobe, some broken cinder blocks, all were crumbling. He stepped inside his squat shelter, cobbled together from brick and tin and stuffed with rags.

Mia was asleep on the bed. Kuyin spoke quietly. “I found some food.”

She awoke, and looked to him with yellowed eyes.

When they had met, she had most of her long hair and her red cheeks shone even through the ever present dust. Now, she looked like him. Eyes and mouth made huge by drawn, papery skin. A few wiry hairs clung to her scalp, and her lips puckered against dry gums. They were sketched memories of people, fading.

He awkwardly shrugged off the pack, and dug within. He smelled the rank sourness of his own rags.

“No,” said Mia.

“You need it.” He removed the things from his pack, and placed an anonymous tuber before him. With their meager, brackish water he ground it into a paste on a flat rock, stained and chipped. He tenderly gathered it in his hands, and used his fingers to put it in Mia’s mouth.

Too weak to spit, she swallowed. “No.” she said. “You promised.”

“We can make it.”

“You promised me.”

They had come to this den twenty years ago, after clearing out the scraps and bones of the previous dwellers. Things were better then. Not as good as when Kuyin was a boy, but better nonetheless. It rained once in that first year, and they were delighted as the drops hit them through the patchwork roof. There were sometimes things from the ground to eat, and the last of the birds passed through a few years later.

One morning as they lay together on the pile of blankets and torn clothes that was their bed, Mia spoke to Kuyin.

“How long will this go on?”


“This. Will it go on forever like this?”

“I don’t know.”

Mia took Kuyin’s hand and held it in hers between their hips. “I can’t have this forever. This slow fade. When it gets too bad, when there are more bad days and good, I’ll stop. I’ll let myself go.”

“Things could… things could pick up.”

“No. You can stay if you need to, but I won’t.” She turned to her side and looked him in the eye. “Promise me you’ll let me go.”

The windstorm raged around their shoddy walls, and sifted down onto them from above. Kuyin reached his free hand to brush the dust from her head.


When they made their pact, she had some life in her yet. She would have fought him, shouted down his betrayal. Now, she just looked at him blankly. He poked more food in her toothless maw and then wiped away the mess with the heel of his palm.

They sat together for a time, and he used their meager water to make a paste of the old roots he had found. He rubbed her back, feeling the sharp blades of her scapula.

“Tomorrow,” he said, “we could wake up to anything... there might be some new sky, some new earth.”


He traced his fingers along the ridges of her spine. He looked out to the horizon. The lingering crescent of the sun pushed long shadows towards him. “Things could-“

“Stop.” She pulled away. “Your hope is obscene.”

“It’ll be okay.” He lay down beside her.

In a dream, Kuyin was playing cards. He sat before the deck and waited for his hand, but the dealer had left and the table was empty. His chips had gone. In his dream Kuyin waited.

The Swinemaster
Dec 28, 2005

Imma' scare you, chump. (in)

The Swinemaster
Dec 28, 2005

I dunno man. Horror is hard.

Ground Floor Apartment (about 1050 words)

“Someone’s breaking in to kill me.”

Chris looked up at the ceiling through the midnight black. His chest rose high, and he exhaled shakily.

“No. No, don’t be stupid,” he thought.

He rolled to his side and threw an arm around Lisa. His breathing slowed and his eyes half-closed. The blinds left faint moonlight lines on the double bed. The glowing embers of his alarm clock were visible in the corner of his eye, and echoed in the dresser mirror. There were only the sounds of soft breathing.

Chris closed his eyes.

“What the gently caress was that?”

He was instantly awake - adrenaline surged through his body. His pulse raged at his temples, his jaw clenched. He strained his ears, willing them beyond the bedroom to the living room. The seashell hiss of silence was all he heard. Tight eyeballs strained around the room, and looked towards the closed door. Nothing.

“A dream maybe. A cat. The wind. Something benign, like every other time.”

Lisa slept on, undisturbed.

He sat up and leaned on an elbow. In the distance, a car downshifted. The trees outside rustled their remaining fall leaves. The bathroom sink dripped once.

Chris remembered young nights like these, when he could call out for mom’s rescue. To instantly escape from fear and dreams to comfort and reality. He used to imagine monsters in his closet, with gaping mouths and eyes that shone orange. If he was too scared of mom being mad, he could at least hide his head under the covers. But that was for monsters. Chris didn’t believe in monsters anymore.

“No one breaks in at night. It’s bad business sense. Thieves scope a place out. Make sure it’s a good hit. They wouldn’t want to come in at night and risk a confrontation. It’s like wild animals – they’re just as scared as I am. Besides, the apartment looks like poo poo. No one would want to rob us.”

Chris’ elbow grew numb under him.

“This isn’t a movie. Bad guys don’t break in with striped shirts and those face masks. There aren’t wild murderers on the loose.”

But Chris remembered. There was a news story of four people that broke into a couple’s home. Somewhere in Georgia or something. Made them drink Drano. Cut parts of them off. And so on.

A car door closed out on the street with a soft clunk. Or a boot stepped in the living room. Chris’ ears had lost all perspective, straining at the silence. Like staring at a single word for too long, sound had become untethered, unsecure.

“gently caress this. I need a piss.”

Chris rose, adjusted his boxers, and stepped out into the hallway. He closed the door behind him. With the light from the window shut out, he moved on memory. The mundane sound of piss in a bowl jolted him out of his reveries.

“This is reality – the world of bathrooms and regular stuff. There’s nothing here, and I have a meeting in the morning.”

Still his mind wandered as he rinsed his hands in cold water. He remembered a story he read online about a family that was caught and killed by a psychopath. Had broken mirrors put in their eyes, so it looked like they were watching as he did things to their bodies. Or maybe that was a movie. Or a book.

The atonal squeal of metal was a twisting fist in his gut. He jerked his arms up and one leg bent at the knee – a useless display of instinct.

Slowly, he crept from the sink to the closed door.

“Chris?” He heard Lisa’s sleepy voice through the walls. ”Was that you?”

Christ locked the bathroom door.

His throat was tight and dry. He opened his mouth, but said nothing – straining his jaw and baring his lower teeth. He forced himself to breathe slowly, quietly.

Kicking open the door, he rushed out to a thug inside his bedroom, leering at his wife. He grabbed him from behind, shoving him to the ground, and plunging a knife that was somehow at the ready in his hand. The police would be called. He’d be on TV. Lisa would tell the story to everyone. He’d tell his grandkids.

Chris placed his palm flat on the door. He heard something. A knock. His heart thudded and he felt sweat prickle his scalp.

He moved his hand to the knob, and traced his fingers around it, feeling the cold metal. He opened his hand around it, but left it still in a clenched fist.

Eyes closed, Chris willed himself to wake up. Willed it to be morning and for this foolish and terrifying uncertainty to be over.

Chris counted to sixty. Again. A third time. His chest loosened and the adrenaline had left his limbs heavy and hollow feeling. He unlocked and opened the door.

Inky blackness stared him in the face. He smelled Lisa’s perfume.

“Nothing. It’s all nothing. It has to be nothing.” He waved his arms into the blackness and smiled to himself. He could hear even breathing from the bedroom.

There was a news report out of Brazil or something where two guys would break into a place and keep their victims alive for weeks, breaking bones but not letting them die, burning them with hot knives, tearing into-

“Stop! Shut the gently caress up. God.” Chris shook his head.

Pushing his arm ahead, he paced the five steps to the kitchen, turned, and flicked the lights. Squinting against the brilliance, he went to the locked door, chain and deadbolt secure, and then to the shut windows. There was water on the floor by the window where the condensation had pooled again.

He snapped the light off and the blackness was total.

Arm outstretched, on tiptoes he stepped back to the bedroom through the open door. The shifting moon had moved its yellowgrey lines from the bed to the floor, faintly illuminating a pile of dirty clothes. Chris got into bed. His side had grown cold, and he eased himself over to Lisa’s warmth and her smell.

He reached an arm around her. Felt a greasy denim shirt. A body that was too big.

Chris closed his eyes. He kept them shut until it was over.

The Swinemaster
Dec 28, 2005

Martello posted:

kinda liked this one two but was confused b/c Christ was there for a bit and idgi cuz it was just Chris before

gently caress, you're right. Ugh.

The Swinemaster
Dec 28, 2005

The Girl in the Plastic Bubble ~990 words.

Mary’s bubble was stuffy. It was 4:00 on a Tuesday and the July sun shone through finger-streaked plastic. Mary tugged at her white, one-piece jumper and squinted up at the transparent dome above her.

Two sides of her bubble were walled, covered with finger paintings, magnetic alphabets, and the various accoutrements of toddlerhood. One wall had a window to the Philadelphia skyline, and another featured a transparent wall with a bio-suit and a pair of thick rubber gloves reaching inward.

There was no one at the clear wall now. Mary had seen her mother a few moments ago – she read her Hop on Pop. Mary didn’t have a pop – he left when she was diagnosed. But Mary didn’t know what a pop was anyway.

Sometimes men would come to visit her in their white coats. They would look at her with their bushy eyebrows and deep crow’s feet, and use the gloves on the wall to take her temperature. They used the suit to draw blood, because otherwise Mary would hide in the corner. The men hadn’t been in today.

Mary knocked over her stack of lettered blocks: P J O K S Y L. She picked up the L in her hand and drew it back. She held her hand there, waiting for mother to tell her not to throw things. But mother wasn’t there. She threw the block. It bounced off the plastic wall and hit her in the eye.

The girl began to wail. She clasped both hands over her eye, and turned her purple face to the camera by the door.

“Mabaa,” she screamed. “Mabaaaaaaa!” The last of her shout pitched upwards to a high squeal.

After a while Mary stopped crying, throat raw and face aching. Her shirt was wet from tears and she had smudged ink on her forehead.

“Mabaa,” she said again. Mary went to the plastic wall facing the door and pushed her face against it. She mashed her lips and tongue against the surface, and tasted the flat taste of plastic. It tasted like some of her toys and that made her happy. Her breath clouded the surface, and she moved over to the gloves. Mother used the gloves to hug her and hold her, and would comb her hair in the mornings.

Mary pushed the glove all the way out of the enclosure, then pinched a fingertip to draw it all the way back in. She did it again. This was not a new game. But now something strange happened. The ring that connected the glove to the wall parted when she pulled back. Mary pulled harder, and the gap opened. With a final tug, the entire glove came free and Mary fell backwards onto her blocks. Too distracted to be hurt, she moved to the new hole. The air on the other side was cool on her skin.

A blonde head pushed through, then skinny arms, and then she was all the way out.

Warily glancing up at the camera in the corner, Mary tottered out the door. With her hands in little fists and her lip trembling, Mary’s fear was overwhelmed by her curiosity. Outside the door was a long white hallway. Unknown smells were in the air, and distantly Mary heard the rhythmic squeak of footsteps on linoleum. She went towards them down the hall. She stopped outside a door and thought she heard her mother’s voice. She sounded sad. Mary put her ear to the door, with her hands cupped on either side in a pantomime of snooping.

“-is here, and I don’t know anyone in Atlanta. I don’t know why she can’t stay here longer, things have been fine.”

“Fine so far, but Mary is a growing girl. Not only do we risk exposure, but it would be unethical to leave her in such a confined space for much longer.” This voice was deeper, a man’s. He sounded bored.

“Doctor, please, I –“

Mary could wait no longer - she used both hands to push up on the handle and stepped in to see her mother. Her mother’s back was to her, and she looked over her shoulder at the sound of the opened door. She blinked in confusion then her eyes widened.

“Mary!” she shrieked, and leapt up from her chair, toppling it.

The man with the deep voice had backed against a wall of books, and was dialing the phone while staring at Mary.

“Mary! No! Oh, God,” said her mother.

“Mabba, my eye,” said Mary. But mother seemed different now. Her lips were pinched and she had her hands outstretched – not to hug, but to push away. Mary started to feel scared and went out the open door, back down the hall.

“Oh, God, Mary!”

Mary ran back towards her comfortable warm bubble. Maybe, she thought, if she went back inside then mother could put her arms though the gloves and hug her again. But the hallways in this place were new and confusing. She turned a corner and ran into a white-coated nurse. She turned around with a smile, which died as soon as she saw Mary. She raised her hands to cover her nose and mouth, and froze in terror. A tear welled at her eye.

Mary left her there and moved on down the hall. Sirens drifted in from a distance. A loud voice was talking from the ceiling. She wished she had never left her room - had stayed with her blocks and books. She couldn’t read them, but mother was going to teach her soon. Here on the wall were some words, recessed in red. She stopped to trace her fingers in their jagged edges. Below them was a funny face with sticks. She moved on.

In the times to come, with no one left to teach her, “Airborne Infectious Disease: Class 5 Quarantine,” and many other words would remain unread.

The Swinemaster
Dec 28, 2005

A haha. It's like something from Squat-a-slab Lem a.k.a Standingpress Lem a.k.a Strain-a-lat Lem.

The Swinemaster
Dec 28, 2005

Sitting Here posted:

Prompt "Sharp Vision Sooths Strong Reaction"

What does that even mean?

The Swinemaster
Dec 28, 2005

Sitting Here posted:

That's a good question and specifically why we hired you in this internet thread. I expect your report by the end of the week.

You can take this job and shovel it.



The Swinemaster
Dec 28, 2005

Undercover ~720 words

“Sharp vision sooths strong reaction… in bed”

“That doesn't make sense. At all.”

“What have you got?”

“Seek new adventures today… in bed.”


“Yeah. And the lucky number is 69.”

“You’re kidding.”


Margaret and Ethan finish the last of their Jasmine tea and the push the wreckage of combination #3 and #4 to one side. The waitress wordlessly drops off the check.

“What you wanna do?” he says.

“Get a drink?”

“Nah. I’m feeling pickled after the honeymoon.”

“Me too, I guess. See a movie?”

“Like what?”

“That new Bond one?”


“Yeah, I guess so. So what do you want to do?”

Ethan smiles wryly and darts his eyes back and forth. “We could rob this place.”

Margaret smiles back. “Oh really? How we gonna do it?”

“If we hadn’t eaten all the spring rolls I could put one in my pocket. Make it look like a gun, right?”

“Too bad.”

“Too bad.”

Ethan strokes his goatee in exaggerated thoughtfulness. Margaret purses her lips and swings a high-heeled foot from side to side.

“I got it,” she says.


“We say we’re food inspectors- I mean health inspectors. Say we gotta check out their kitchen. Say ‘oh it’s so dirty back here, you’re gonna get a big fine. Unless…’”

“Unless they grease some palms.”

“Grease being the key term here,” she says, sticking out her tongue.

“How we gonna convince them we’re official?”

“Do it like in the movies. Flash a library card or something. Just do it real fast and go. It’d totally work.”

“Shh shh, she’s coming.”

The waitress cruises by slowly and wipes down a spotless table.

“Okay,” Margaret breathes, “except I didn't bring my wallet.”

“Oh poo poo, neither do I.”

“Wait, what do you mean?”

“I must have forgot it at home.”

She leans in close over the table. “Then how are we going to pay?”

Ethan shrugs and smiles again. “Looks like we might get to try our plan after all.”

“If you want to stay here, I could walk back to ours. Get some cash.”

“Ugh. The food wasn’t even that good though…. Let’s just dash it,” he says.

“What are you 15?”

“What are you, 80?”

Margaret arches a thin eyebrow and smiles. “Tough talk, mister.”

“drat right.”

“Fine then. But we need a distraction.”

The Golden Sun is empty save the two and the waitress. Passing headlights streak the darkness outside.

Ethan sucks his teeth clean. ”Hm. Could ask for more tea. Then take off when she goes in back.”

“Alright.” Margaret smiles and giggles.

“Easy there tiger.” Ethan waves over the server.

“Can we get a little more tea, please?”

“No more tea tonight. Kitchen closed.”

“No tea? Umm….” Ethan looks over to Margaret with questioning eyes.

“That’s fine then, it’ll be Visa,” she says while grabbing the bill and rising.

Ethan rises too, locking eyes with Margaret. The waitress turns to take them to the bar. And Margaret bolts.

Arms outstretched she hits the glass door and out into the night, with Ethan at her heels. Behind them someone shouts in Chinese.

“Hey, hey!”

As they run down the block past a gas station, a young man darts from the restaurant. A cook or a dishwasher or a driver, he’s sprinting after them.

“Hey stop! Hey!”

At the corner of a garage parking lot, he catches up to them and seizes Ethan by the elbow.

“You didn't pay. You didn't pay.”

Ethan turns, reaches into his jacket and pulls out his wallet. Holding it to the man’s face, he opens and snaps it shut.

“Agent Cooper, FBI. You are impeding an investigation, and about to blow our cover.”

Ethan looks behind him impatiently to a nothing in the distance. “The bureau will reimburse you, sir, but you need to clear the area ay-sap.”

To his side, he sees Margaret open her pink Coach knock-off and pull out her wallet. The one covered in little cartoon dogs. She winks her bus pass and deadpans their pursuer.

“Sir,” she nods.

He looks at them unsteadily, then grits his teeth and moves back towards the restaurant, throwing glances over his shoulder.

The two walk back to their apartment.

“So, I thought you forgot your wallet.”

“I thought you did.”

“Yeah, well. Maybe I could go for a drink after all.”