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monkeyboydc
Dec 2, 2007

Unfortunately, we had to kut the English budget at the Ivalice Magick Ackcademy.

As for Vonnegut's essay, I think three and four apply most to writing this story. It was over five hundred words longer at one point, and cutting was tough.

Everything Under Rocks (1743 words)

“We keep the generator 'bout a hundred yards out in the woods. You keep it too close to the cabin and it's noisy as poo poo – smells bad. If you put it too far it's a pain in the rear end carryin' gas out to it –” for the first time since he'd started talking, Dan looks down to lick the edge of the bible-like paper and seal the spliff he's been rolling. Only a few brown, tobacco strands twirl to the forest floor; he makes sure every bit of weed stays in. “– that and I don't like turning it off if it's too far out.”

“No? Why?” Clark looks down the aisle of trees to where the generator sits in the midst of the Alaskan wilderness, a metallic wart in the greenery.

Dan lights the spliff, rolling it, burning evenly. He takes a long hit, holds it in, and breathes out a cloud made bigger by how cold it is outside. “It gets real dark out there.” He hands the spliff to Clark.

“Since when are you afraid of the dark?” Clark takes a hit and passes it back. He could recall plenty of times he and Dan wandered at night looking for a place to smoke and drink, chucking their empties into bushes as they went – there's plenty of bushes in Washington. If anything, Dan always been the most level headed.

“It's not dark like it is back in Washington, man. The second you shut that thing off, it's darker than you've ever seen it get. You know there ain't other houses around here. The closest city is Anchorage – four, five hundred miles away.” He breathes deeply through the paper cylinder, bringing it to half-mast in a red flare. “I always tell myself I won't, but as soon as I kill that thing, I fuckin' snap, run as fast I can back to the cabin.” He holds the spliff out, offering.

Clark shakes his head. “No thanks.” He gets real high all of a sudden and can hear the blood in his skull. They were farther away from a major city than Clark had ever been and, suddenly, the idea seemed more bothersome than it had before they sparked this thing. He knew it was just paranoia, more and more he caught himself getting this way, worrying when he smokes. The isolation, the intense dark, it reminds him of when he was little, getting ready for bed.

Night terrors were a big problem for Clark when he was little. He'd lay awake for hours. There were times he'd dream his brother's Halloween werewolf costume clawed its way out of the hatch to the attic in the corner of his room. He was sure he was awake, would begin screaming, and then find his parents shaking him, only dimly aware that he was still yelling as they shook him. Clark was ten before he was able to sleep an entire night in his room alone. “Hey, wanna go check out that old cannery you were telling me about?”



Clark and Dan wander through the cannery, very much like an old, rusted out can itself now that its ceiling has collapsed and most of the machinery has either rotted away or removed long ago. It was odd to think that people had worked here and, judging by the size of the empty room, there must have been a lot more of them at one time. The village was too far away from the main artery of civilization to survive. “What did they can here?” Clark asks.

“gently caress if I know man.” Dan produces a joint from the pack of cigarettes he keeps inside his leather jacket and lights it. “Fish probably.”

There are cracks in the foundation where trees have started sprouting up through the concrete floor. “You ever seen anything weird out here?” Clark couldn't help but ask, he was a collector of sorts.

Sometimes, he'd find himself talking to people long after a party died down, in the small hours of the morning after most people were passed out drunk and before the world began to turn gray, before the first bird chirps, and then another, and then they all burst awake in song. People tell their stories then. Some lived in Seattle their whole lives and never experienced anything supernatural – as a rule, ghosts don't seem to bother with large cities, they prefer the crevices, like potato bugs you find when you turn over a big rock. The strangest stuff was usually in an old house, out in the middle of nowhere. You could always tell which stories were real.

Dan takes a pull off the joint. “I've seen people do some weird poo poo out here.”



Clark dozes, half asleep. A droning in the distance keeps him awake. He thinks it's the obnoxious garbage truck that offloads poo poo from his apartment complex every Tuesday morning, but then remembers he's not home.

He opens his eyes and peers around the cabin, hazy with cigarette smoke. Dan is passed out in the chair opposite and Dan's dad is snoring loudly on one of the cots. He doesn't know how long it's been since they fell asleep. Clark realizes what the distant buzzing is. “gently caress, the generator's still on,” he says, kicking Dan's chair – Dan doesn't move. He is out. “Dan, we gotta shut the generator off.” Nothing. I guess I'll do it.

Supplies are limited. To get to their fishing village, you have to take a plane from Seattle to Anchorage, from Anchorage to a small airport two hundred miles north, finally a float plane further north that lands directly on the lake where they fish. Clark arrived a few weeks after Dan and his family. The only thing they burn through quicker than drugs is gas, and if Clark doesn't shut the generator off they might be in for some cold, dark nights before the next time they can refuel.

Clark meets the crunch of freeze-dry earth in the zero degree evening. Each day the sun barely peeks over the horizon, rolls across the distant mountaintops for six, maybe seven hours, only to topple back over the opposite side again, leaving them in the most complete darkness he's ever experienced. He looks around, picks a tree, and begins to piss, marveling at how much steam is produced when it's so cold outside. Before he finishes, he looks over his shoulder once, twice.

A sweater and a whiskey drunk was a good choice of clothing, but he didn't plan on being out too long and he didn't think he'd be able to make the trip again if he turns around now. He walks down the row of trees, almost perfectly spaced six feet apart, each with a halogen lamp attached to light the way.

In the distance, the generator seems very small, like an angry, metal bumblebee screaming into the emptiness. Clark's surprised by how loud it hums as he gets closer. He crouches beside it and searches for the kill switch. He remembers what Dan told him about running back to the cabin after turning it off and decides he'll walk – he's not scared of the dark anymore. Finally, he finds the switch, looks up to fix the path he'll take, looks down, and turns off the generator. It grumbles and grinds to a stop. The lights lining the pathway shrink to small, orange points, the tips of cigarettes. Clark stands and, as the lights go out completely, sees someone standing against the wall of the cabin. “Dan!?” No answer. Clark turns and runs into the forest; he fuckin' snaps.



The canopy blocks out the stars, the only light source. His fingers, blindly reaching in front of him as he walks, have almost no feeling left in them. He tries to circle back to where he thinks the cabin sits. Just when his inner compass tells him he's heading in the right direction, he hears something in the woods, snapping twigs and shuffling feet, not attempting to hide its presence. It's driving him someplace old, and lonely, where it's been waiting for someone to come back.



Clark gave up screaming a long time ago, figuring he'd gone too far from the village for anyone to hear him. Every time he yells, whatever is the woods with him closes their gap, as if to tell him he needs to stop. Whatever it is, it's fast when it wants to be – he thinks of the bugs under the rock again and how fast they scramble when exposed.



He figures his eyes will adjust, but for that, you need light. He can't hear the river anymore and wonders when he'll freeze. His feet stop aching, stop feeling, they've gotten so cold. Then, right when Clark is sure he will die, he hits something that doesn't feel like a tree. He runs his hands in front of him feeling something smooth. A wall! He moves along it and finds what he thinks is a door frame, then, a door knob. Oh thank god. He opens the door and steps inside.

A soft glow lights the corner of the room, a night light. There's his bed and his posters on the walls. “This is my room.” He can't believe it. The Mickey Mouse blankets, the toys, it's his room from when he was little. This is almost worse than the dark, it's impossible. Clark turns around to leave, but finds there's no door, just his closet, full of ill-fitting clothes. There's a scraping sound behind him.

In the opposite corner of his room, the attic hatch moves aside, dropping bits of popcorned ceiling. The black square leading up looks just like outside. There's a faint scuffling and a dark mass drops from the attic onto the carpet, between him and what should have been the door into the hallway. The pile of clothing jerks, like it's full of rats. It twitches, the snarling face of his brother's wolf costume leers at him with cigarette eyes. He blinks, it's halfway to him, settling on the floor like the air escaping from under a sheet. He tries not to blink as he watches the costume pulse. It's had a long time to wait, and it's fine waiting a little longer.

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BlackFrost
Feb 6, 2008

Have you figured it out yet?


I'm not exactly happy with this, at least not yet. More work is obviously needed, but I'm sleep-deprived and there's no way I can pour more time into it now. More drafts may be written, but I'll hold off until after the thunderdome goons have torn it to pieces.

As for Vonnegut's rules, I'd say 1, 4, and 5 apply the most.

Home - 1,705 words.

If there’s one thing you can appreciate about small towns, it’s consistency. The city was constantly growing, expanding, changing. One day, you could turn down a street on the way to work, and the next day, there’d be some fancy new sign hanging from one of the buildings, advertising whatever obscure merchandise the owner was pushing. It gave this feeling that the city itself was alive; that there were so many people there that even the buildings seemed to come and go.

In a small town, though—at least, in Topton—nothing ever changes. The same shops all line the center road, and the same people run them. The same people live in the same houses they had before, and while there may occasionally be a newcomer or two, they almost always pass on. As such, there is one other consistency in a small town: empty houses. No one comes to knock them down, and people who move in don’t stay for long.

That’s why I found it very odd when I received a voicemail from my mother, telling me that she and my father were going to leave town and never look back. She hadn’t even said where she was going. She was brief, but I heard something in her voice that worried me. It reminded me of how she would speak if I had hurt myself as a child, or if dad hadn’t called to let her know why he was coming home late.

That's why I went back. I had to know what happened. If nothing else, I wanted to find my mother.

During the drive, I hoped that it was some sort of weird joke; that my mother was pulling some trick to bring me home.

She wasn't.



My bad feeling didn't subside as Topton came into view. Those small, humble buildings always seemed so sad; they wanted to grow, to expand. But they never did.

I kept my eyes locked on the road as I pulled into town. I didn't want to see anyone, or anything, that I recognized. I didn’t want them to know I was home. I drove straight to the house, hoping I would get some clues without having to talk to anyone.

The familiar driveway came into view, and I dared to glance at the house. For a moment, I almost thought I had misjudged the location. The door was red instead of white, and there seemed to be an extra window, next to my bedroom. At least, that's what I thought I saw. As I pulled into the driveway, I realized that everything was exactly as it should be; white door, only two windows on the second floor.

"Weird," I said aloud, but shook it off. Probably just stress. One of those weird, corner-of-the-eye tricks. Nothing more. I looked down at the small walkway, and followed its path to the front door with my eyes. That path had seemed so long when I was a kid, and now, it was just a few big steps.

As I approached the front door, I had to fight the urge to turn around, get back in my car, and leave. Everytime I came home, this feeling would sink into my heart, and it would tighten up the longer I stayed there. I couldn’t remember any previous visit that had brought it to this level in such short time, but then again, in each of those visits I knew for sure who would be on the other side of that white door.

I stopped at the door and took a deep breath. I shut my eyes, and my fingers trembled. Just knock, I thought. Just knock, and when no one answers, turn around and leave. Simple.

Seriously. Just knock.

This isn’t that hard. It’s a simple motion.

Just raise up your arm… or don’t. That’s cool, too.

…This is ridiculous.


I opened my eyes and reached for the door, and immediately drew back as the door changed before me, but before I could ascertain what I was seeing, I blinked, and sure enough, the door was white. It was always white. I stood there for a few moments, staring, and when I realized that I was shaking I wondered what the neighbors would think if they saw me acting like this.

I knocked on the door. Waited a moment. Knocked again.

She didn’t come. Nobody came. I wanted to bang on the door, over and over, until someone came, but I knew they wouldn’t. Mom was gone, she was truly gone, and she hadn’t bothered to tell me where she went.

“Did we really grow that distant?” I said aloud, and realized that, once again, I must look like an insane fool. I sighed, and turned to walk back to my car.

A doorknob turned. As the metal hinges creaked, the air seemed to stand still, and the sound permeated so heavily that I could almost hear each individual spec of rust grinding against one another (didn’t dad plan on fixing that?) before fading off into silence. I glanced behind me, and saw an empty doorway, as if the house itself beckoned me to enter.

I felt my legs swivel around, and I approached the house. “Hello? Mom?” The house was dark, even in the daylight. Stepping into the living room, I realized that I had never seen the house this dark before; mom always had at least one light on in each room. “It makes sense now, huh?”

No one was home. In fact, it seemed as though no one had been home for quite some time. I could smell dust; I could feel the stagnant air as I moved through it. It surrounded me, as if to embrace me and welcome me home.

I moved through the living room, stepping around the dusty couch, and turned left to enter the kitchen. The carpeted floor simply gave way to linoleum, though the only thing visible from the living room was the flimsy, blue dinner table and the windowed sliding door that led to the backyard.

How many meals had mom eaten here since I’d gone? Alone, staring at her dish, not feeling hungry but forcing herself to eat, her stomach constantly knotting and turning with some fear that he would come back some day. That he would barge in through the door and be a part of her life again.

“I’m sorry,” I said, and almost jumped when I realized I felt like sobbing. “I’m so sorry.”

I rubbed my eyes, trying to clear my vision, and for a moment I thought the back door was gone. I blinked, and in the blur, I saw the sunlight shining in from the backyard. My heart slowed as I wiped the last of the tears from my eyes, and then I saw the wall perfectly, the sunlight having vanished.

I blinked.

Wall.

I heard a sound, like sobbing, coming from close by. I spun around, and the living room was gone. The wall had closed me in the kitchen. The sobbing intensified, and as I covered my ears I realized that the sound was coming from me.

I put my face in my hands, and for a moment, wanted to collapse to the kitchen floor and weep, as I had probably done many times as a child. But instead I lifted my head up and glanced at the wall again. In the corner of my eye, I saw the living room carpet; it was to the right, instead of to the left.

Of course it was. It was always like that. I could’ve sworn I had come in from the opposite direction, but I knew better. I was just stressed, is all. Confused.

That clenching feeling I’d had came back, and it took control of my legs. I walked for the living room, but stopped, dead in my tracks, when I passed the red door next to the fridge.

I stared at the door, refusing to blink it away this time. Because that door was always there. I knew it was. I’d seen it before, even if there were times when it was hidden. I knew the door was there because it’s where he went the night he disappeared. The night he left our lives yet left something behind, something terrible, something that I had left with mom.

And now mom was gone, too.

That sound again. Metal grinding… no, it was stuck. The door knob was stuck. But it was moving. Something had found it.

I jumped at the rapping, and that was enough to snap me out of my trance. I grabbed the fridge with both hands, screamed, and pulled it down, blocking the door. My body threw me at the living room—toward the front door—before I’d even had a chance to think about it. I flew out of the door, out of the house, into the cold air outside, and collapsed on the cement walkway, my face buried in my hands.

I knew I had to get to the car. I had to get out of there, wait for mom to call me some other time, and tell me where she’d gone. I would never think of this rickety old house or the piece of poo poo town it lived in ever again, but I felt paralyzed.

Get up. Now. You’re stronger than this.

I got up.

Good. Now, open your eyes.

No…

Open them, god drat it. Stop this.

I opened my eyes, and almost fell again as they gazed upon the front door from the darkness of the living room. Was I really that confused that I hadn’t even made it to the front door? What was that cold breeze I’d felt, then?

I’m losing my mind. I’m going completely loving bonkers.

That’s what I kept telling myself, even as I heard the door in the kitchen burst open, as I heard the heavy footsteps behind me. I stared at the front door—red, of course it was loving red—and didn’t bother turning around when the footsteps softened on the carpet.

Behind me, I heard an all-too-familiar voice that had haunted my dreams for years even after I’d left.

“Welcome home,” it said.

Etherwind
Apr 22, 2008
Probation
Can't post for 1944 days!


Soiled Meat

SurreptitiousMuffin posted:

While we're in a writing mood, the current Glenn Beck GBS thread has turned into an amazing short fiction rodeo about life in a libertarian hellhole and I feel like Thunderdome should get in on that action.

This is pretty fun. I did a hack-up of The Book of the New Sun for a warm-up, and then gave it a shot for real. Everyone else should get in on this while it lasts.

Erik Shawn-Bohner
Mar 21, 2010

by XyloJW


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bVsxvoUX9Rw

toanoradian
May 30, 2011

The happiest waffligator


2. 645 words.


Sundel Bolong Udah Jalan-Jalan

Tukul dismissed his initial fears after finding out that the ‘mysterious woman’ was simply one of those Caucasians. He had seen them wandering the place, asking anyone they came across various questions in some sort of hesitant groans. This one was a woman with long blonde hair, a big backpack and a pair of sunglasses on her big forehead. She was also dressed indecently, with a tight-fitting shirt (he noticed her large bosom) and short pants. She noticed him and walked to his cart.

She looked at the cart and then to Tukul. “These… are meatballs?” she asked.

Tukul nodded. “Beef meatballs.” The foreign woman blinked at him. “Made from cow. Mooo. Yes, cow.”

“I can have some?” she asked.

“You have money?” Tukul asked.

She reached into her pockets and pulled out some wrinkled notes. She gave him enough for at least five bowls. He smiled and took them all. “Do you want it spicy?” She blinked at him again. Tukul let out his tongue and exhaled rapidly, swinging his hands in front of his mouth. The girl stared at him and backed away slightly.

Of course she didn’t knew what this mean, Tukul thought. He showed her a bottle of chilli. “Do you want the meatballs with this?”

“What’s this?”

“It makes this feel hot,” Tukul said, pointing to his tongue. He put his thumbs up. “Delicious.”

“Ah! Okay then,” she said. Her backpack had disappeared.

Few minutes later, Tukul finished making his meatballs. He also added a generous helping of chilli. He put in fewer meatballs than usual. He handed the bowl to her. “Be careful, it’s hot.”

Without hesitation, she grabbed the bowl and put her fingers in. She licked her lips as her white fingers picked up a meatball. It went inside her mouth. She swallowed them, without chewing. She smiled. “This is quite good.”

“Well, of course! I'm Mang Tukul, the best in town!”

She continued ‘eating’. She then bowed her head to suck on the soup. As she raised her head, she ignored the strands of blonde hair now blocking her face. “So proud of that, when you lived in a town of this size.”

“You speak well,” Tukul said. He began to pull his cart away.

She finished drinking up everything. She then dropped the bowl. “Well, of course. I’ve lived here. For sooo many years. Don’t tell me you don’t know me, Mang Tukul?”

Tukul felt his senses weakening. The woman in front of him put her hands on the cart and leaned over. He couldn’t help but look at the woman’s chest. She then put her hands on the hem of her shirt and pulled it up. Tukul tried to cover his eyes, but he still stared at her.

As she lifted her shirt slowly, Tukul saw her white skin slowly turning darker and a faint trace of blood running down her bellybutton. As Tukul looked up, he saw that she didn’t have a stomach. Instead, there was a big hole, with bits of bone and organs peeking out of its side, as if someone took a big chunk out of her stomach. Tukul fell down on his bottom as the white foreigner in front of him turned darker and its body extended up, her shirt replaced with a long, white bloody gown.

“But…what?” Tukul said.

The thing’s appendages shot out and grabbed Tukul’s shoulders, pinning him to the ground. It bent forward and moved its head closer to Tukul’s. Tukul shivered, staring into those bloodshot eyes. “I’ve been outside, of course,” it said. “Do you know what…spirits do out there? Out there, on the land of the whites?”

Tukul couldn’t process what happened to her face. It shook, it buzzed, it cracked. All he sensed next was darkness and a faint whiff of spicy meatballs.

“They killed people.”

Noah
May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch


Vonnegut rule: 2 and 3, I hope.


Blood for Blood

Words: 1690

Waning sunlight cast the playground in long shadows. Tiffany and Aaron sat on a bench watching their fellow neighborhood kids dash about. In a few minutes, the street lamps would turn on.

“Are you ready?” Tiffany said.

Aaron said nothing.

“Don’t crap out on me now, he’s right there,” Tiffany said, pointing at Bernie Cratcher. Aaron watched the portly boy chase a younger boy, shoving him hard into the woodbark of the playground. Bernie pushed the smaller boy down again as he tried to get up. Aaron swallowed hard and nodded.

“Lights!” shouted a little girl on the slide. Bernie looked up, gave the small boy one more shove, and trotted off.

“Let’s go,” Tiffany said, grabbing her younger brother’s hand. Aaron grabbed the backpack sitting next to them and followed. Around the corner, Bernie had a good lead on them. Tiffany pulled her hood up and Aaron followed suit.

Stopping, Bernie looked back and saw the siblings behind him halfway down the street. Confusion spread across his face and then his eyes opened wide. His legs began moving before his torso even made it completely around.

Tiffany’s hood caught wind and pulled away from her head, her dirty blonde pony-tail flapping in Aaron’s face. Aaron struggled with the backpack as it dangled from one shoulder. He was falling behind his sister’s long stride.

Bushes cracked as Tiffany tackled Bernie into a vacant yard. Skin slapped against skin in the struggle. Bernie wheezed and huffed, soft squeals instead of words came from his mouth.

“Get it,” Tiffany hissed at Aaron. Fumbling with his backpack, Aaron pulled a damp rag from the bag and pressed it into Tiffany’s hands. Redness filled Tiffany’s face. Struggling, Bernie grabbed her hair causing her to yelp.

Aaron slammed a fist down onto Bernie’s face until he let go of Tiffany. Like a hammer, bouncing off Bernie’s cheeks and nose, smearing blood in small splats. Tiffany shoved Aaron into the dead leaves and dirt, covering Bernie’s face with the rag. Deep grooves in the dirt formed from Bernie’s thrashing feet. Tiffany leaned heavy on the rag covering Bernie’s face.

“Breathe it deep you fat gently caress, breathe,” Tiffany said through clenched teeth. Small leaves flit into the air from Bernie’s hands falling limply at his side. “Get the ropes, Aaron.”

Tiffany looked up and saw Aaron kneeling with his knees to his chest, crying. She sat back, the dirt of the yard spreading around her rear. Rubbing her face with both hands she sighed.

Out of the backpack came the rope to bind Bernie’s hands and feet. Bernie struggled weakly with the rag draped over his face, and Tiffany punched him hard in the chest.

“Aaron, I need you to pull yourself together. We have to get him out of sight, Aaron, please. I need your help. I need you.”

The boy wiped his eyes, and nodded.

“We’re going to get mom and dad back, right? They promised,” Aaron said.

Tiffany pulled him close and stroked the back of his head.

“We’re going to get them back. They promised.”

***

The street lamps buzzed and Tiffany waited for dark. The two siblings sat on their trophy, a tied and gagged child no older than 12. Waiting between a bushy hedge, and an abandoned property, Tiffany ground her teeth. Aaron, her brother, was on the verge of another crying fit. His silent sobs annoyed Tiffany, but she felt guilt nonetheless. There was no other way around it, was there? Besides, Bernie, the listless and drugged boy beneath her, had it coming. He wouldn’t have ran when he saw them if he wasn’t guilty.

Tiffany looked at her watch, one minute before the local news declared sundown. Nighttime. Curfew. When there’s no light, when it’s dead of night, don’t leave your bed, you’ll lose your head. Air raid sirens went off. Leftovers from the Cold War, Tiffany’s parents used to say, now serve as nightly reminders of curfew. Aaron clapped his hands over his ears, he had never been outside when they went off before.

“Come on, we have to move,” Tiffany said. She grabbed the pudgy Bernie and pulled him up to his feet with a grunt. He was groggy, too loving groggy, god damnit. Aaron let out a whine and shook his hands as though they were boneless.

“Cut the ropes on his feet, we’re gonna have to drag him,” Tiffany said, straightening Bernie up as he tried to slump over. Aaron futzed with his boyscout knife. “Aaron, snap out of it, we do not have time for this.”

“But, it’s, the horns, and—“

“We’re going to be fine. They’re waiting for us. We had a deal. They promised. We’ll be fine. But we have to get to them. We have to get Mom and Dad.”

Aaron nodded and sucked in a deep breath. He knelt to Bernie’s feet and worked through the knot he had tied. Within moments the ropes dropped to the ground. Aaron took Bernie under one shoulder, Tiffany took the other. With the grace of a sack race, the siblings darted from one yard to another, resting behind the abandoned houses, sprinting past the houses with lights still on.

The pale green street lamps choked as the pulsating darkness of night closed in. Soon the buzz of the lamps was drowned by whispers. In between their heavy breaths, the sound of chittering and gnashing of teeth floated through the air.

And then a distressed cry for the boy in the middle. Bernie’s father, shouting, howling and whistling in distress somewhere in the night. Tiffany had to bite the side of her cheek to keep from crying herself as they dragged Bernie deeper into the darkness. House after house the calling drifted further and further. Before long they had escaped the worried parent.

In front of them, down a dark bend and ending in a cul de sac, was one house.

“A light on in the upstairs window,” Tiffany recited. They could barely see the road from the light of the street lamps, but they knew the neighborhood by heart. Taking one last moment to catch her breath, Tiffany paused. She swore she could hear laughing somewhere in the darkness but when she would listen, it would not be there. Dogs barked in the distance and shadows fluttered around the waning lights. Tiffany looked at her brother.

“Let’s get them back,” she said. Aaron nodded. They took deep breaths and they started for the house with the light on in the upstairs window.

**

When the three other children saw Bernie they began to cry. Their last hope, dragged before them, drugged into a stupor and covered in blood. Tiffany screamed, and slapped the closest one to her, a girl named Debbie Grestling.

“Shut up! Shut up! You did this! This is your fault, this is all your fault!” Snot began to run down Tiffany’s nose. Aaron dropped Bernie in a heap next to the other children and began to sob himself. Everyone crying, from fear, anger and guilt. “You just couldn’t leave us alone,” Tiffany said, collapsing to her knees. “You just couldn’t!”

“We didn’t mean to, we swear, we swear,” Debbie cried. “It was just a joke, that’s all. We never meant to hurt anyone.”

The basement of the house was dimly lit from oil lamps. Flickering, they cast Tiffany’s shadow across the wall, her hair fraying out like snakes. A door on the other side of the basement groaned as the wood bent. Weight pressing against the door, creaking and cracking. A shadow slid under the crack of the door like oil, feeling its surroundings. The knob turned and the door swung open spilling the darkness into the basement. Flames flickered violently and the shadows of the children rotated around the room dancing across the walls, cavorting unnaturally. Bending, breaking and unraveling the shadows spun, around and around and around.

“We did it! We did what you asked, we had a deal!” Tiffany shouted into the darkness.

“Bring me back my mommy,” Aaron pleaded through sobs.

Debbie screamed for help. Tiffany spun around and slapped her again. Tiffany pulled the girl’s gag back on. Tiffany’s shadow tangling with Debbie’s on the wall as it spun. It was choking Debbie. Choking her until her neck snapped and hanged.

“Flesh for flesh, blood for blood,” came a low croak from beyond the doorway. “Have you brought all of the accused?”

Tiffany nodded.

“A deal struck, paid for in full, a promise kept and promise returned,” the fried and gravely voice said. “The contract is fulfilled.”

From out of the darkness came footsteps. Dazed and disoriented, Tiffany and Aaron’s parents stumbled into the basement. Clutched together, with one arm each trying to guide their way through, they looked at the scene before them. Four children bound and gagged, drugged and weary slumped in a corner, with their children hovering over them. Aaron ran to his mother’s side and cried, and cried.

Confusion was all the parents could muster on their faces. Tiffany ran to her parents and grabbed one of their hands in hers apiece.

“What’s going— ” Tiffany’s father asked.

“I can’t explain, we have to leave, we have to go, come on,” she said.

Tiffany dragged her family up through the stairs, away from the crying children and the fried voice. Hallway, turn a corner, don’t turn back.

“Cover your ears, please,” Tiffany instructed. Cries for help echoed through the walls as though they never left the basement. They were calling for Tiffany, for Aaron, to help them, to not leave them. Louder and louder, they said they were sorry, they were so, so sorry. Wait, just wait, please. The front door of the house appeared and the family ran as fast as they could.

Spilling out into the cold night air, the door slammed behind them and the screams were gone. Silence. No dogs, no laughter, no crying. But every occupied house had their lights on. Silhouettes of every family in front of their windows watching as Tiffany and her family walked down the street, clutched together. Watching, and knowing.

budgieinspector
Mar 24, 2006

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



Muffin thought he could punish me by making me write a story in a day and a half. He was wrong. Written in accordance with Vonnegut's Rule #7 because I pity you poor bastards.



Mercy (1,748 motherfucking words and you'll take it and goddamn LIKE it)


The reel whined as Muriel cranked it; a mosquito's complaint in the last sharp hour of this dull November dusk. She paused, listening to Lake Cullen slosh against the Alumacraft's hull. She checked the chartreuse spinnerbait, then whipped the rod back, and sent the lure flying toward the end of the dock. It smacked the nearest post, just above the waterline, and dropped. Muriel reeled it back slowly enough that a sluggish largemouth bass could catch up.

It was Thanksgiving Day. She had the lake to herself. Football and family kept the punters away, but even the most die-hard anglers of Mercy County, Texas, could be cowed by the chill in the air (or their wives’ glares) into staying close to the homestead. Which suited Muriel right down to the ground. One day away from the phone and the computer and all the need, need, need that went along with it. One day for her to take off her I-care mask and not have to worry about whether the solicitous, sympathetic tone of voice that her clientele expected was in-key.

She cast the line again. A submerged log bumped and scraped its way along the bottom of the boat.

###

Some people were in so much pain that they wanted to die. If they couldn’t do it themselves, they could contact the various right-to-die groups, where some generous soul might hear about the terminal illness that wracked their body. And that person might offer to help them slip away quietly, with dignity. But sometimes the pain wasn’t a byproduct of a wasting disease, and there were fewer sympathetic listeners to pleas for deliverance from Morgellons, fibromyalgia, and good ol’ fashioned clinical depression.

If the petitioner was persistent enough, someone, somewhere might suggest that Muriel Timmons could help them. And the dance would begin.

“You see them from across the room,” Wally used to say, “and you know you’re destined for each other. You go to them and take their hand and lead them to the floor as the band plays ‘We’ve Got Tonight’—Bob Seger, don’t ya know. And I ask what Bob asks: ‘Why don’t you stay?’ And they cry on your shoulder and tell you all their reasons. If you’re truly open to the world and a caring person, how can you refuse to ease their burden?”

She’d nodded along, but it never reached any part of her. Wally Gundersson was short and soft everywhere a man could be, she thought on the day he hired her to be his assistant. He was ordained through an online divinity mill, and liked to style himself as “Reverend”. He considered what he did to be a spiritual calling, asking for nothing beyond expenses. He couldn’t really afford an assistant—he barely supported himself by selling whatever geegaws someone would give him a commission to hawk. But he was fighting extradition after helping a woman in Dublin reach her eternal reward, and couldn’t handle all the paperwork alone.

He seemed pleased to have Muriel around. She wasn’t at all put off by his mission. A preacher’s daughter from Vidalia, she could sing the Jesus tune convincingly enough. She never let him see her roll her eyes when his clients jerked him around for months on end, committing then weaseling out. She even ran his errands: scoring pills when pills were around; picking up oxygen masks and propane tanks when they weren’t.

It wasn’t long before he took her along on the real business. He introduced her to the clients as his “spiritual amanuensis”—which, in practice, meant “valet”. She was six feet tall, broad-shouldered, and twenty years his junior. She could haul all of their luggage in a single trip from his champagne-colored Buick LeSabre, whereas he often struggled with a single roller bag.

One day, after a particularly-difficult farewell for a particularly-difficult client—the woman suffered terribly from chronic fatigue syndrome, but always pepped right up as soon as they made arrangements to visit her in Albuquerque—Muriel noticed beads of sweat stippling Wally’s receding hairline, where the blond was turning to gray. Something hungry burned in his root-brown eyes. She was still surprised when, on the ride back to the motel, he reached over and let his palm rest on her thigh.

Surprised—but not shocked, afraid, or aroused. Her awareness of sex was the same as her awareness of feelings: dim, distant, something that happened to other people, and something that other people figured happened to you. Men didn’t approach her. She didn’t seek them out, either. Women cruised her, sometimes, but she never bothered to contemplate the idea long enough to be flattered, much less intrigued.

All the same, she was curious about Wally’s ardor. When they reached the motel, he ushered her straight to his room. It turned out that he wasn’t entirely soft, after all.

As he lay next to her, snoring and loosing little pips of flatulence, she felt a tiny kernel of warmth bloom against her bruised cervix. She decided to call it love.

They tied the knot outside Steubenville, Ohio. One of Wally’s clients, an elderly Unitarian minister with severe arthritis, officiated the private ceremony in his own front parlor. Once all of the paperwork was submitted, Wally returned the favor with an overdose of Dilaudid.

The FBI was waiting in their driveway with an extradition warrant.

###

Muriel was chewing bologna on soggy Wonder Bread when the line twitched. She braked the reel handle with her right thumb and choked up her grip on the rod. Then the pull came—more force than she anticipated. But she was still nearly as strong as she’d been when she’d met Wally.

The fish’s olive scales glinted in the failing light. The mottled black stripe down its flank jerked and heaved as it tried to free itself. Its gills worked like the bellows of a hyperactive blacksmith. She watched them slow, the fight draining away. When the bass stopped breathing, she waited a minute, sighed, and threw it overboard. She didn’t like fish, anyway.

###

Wally was furious when he learned that she’d taken over the business while he was in jail. Even more so when he found out that she was charging the clientele for the service.

“I had to eat,” she said, trying not to show how little she cared about his pique. “And you were telling everyone you’d hang yourself in your cell before you’d let them send you to Ireland, so I did what I had to do.”

“We had savings!”

“We had a grand and the car needed an alternator.”

He should be happy, she thought. The federal judge in Austin agreed with Wally’s attorney that twenty-five out of the fifty states had no law against assisted suicide, and refused to ship him off to stand trial on the Emerald Isle. She even bought him a vanilla sheet cake.

“It ain’t right,” he kept saying. “It just ain’t—this isn’t how it works, Muriel! You don’t tarnish something as sacred as this with money!

She shrugged and picked up the cake to take it back to the fridge. He grabbed her elbow and spun her around. The cake flew against the wall. He had his hand up. Something sparked in the back of her mind that almost made her scream, Papa!

But she bit her tongue. And he lowered his hand. She glared at the frosting on the wall. He stalked off to the bedroom. She went to the medicine cabinet for a syringe and the bottle of veterinary-grade Nembutal that Wally would’ve wasted on one of the clients she’d trimmed from the roster. She waited for the snoring.

She held him all night, waiting for guilt, remorse—anything—to appear. But she woke up just after dawn, when his bowels emptied into his pajama bottoms, and took a shower before calling the ambulance.

That was ten years ago. Once the heat died down, she went back to work. This time, payment up front, and no more weaseling—the clients got what they paid for, whether they really wanted it or not.

###

The stars were out when Muriel turned to start the little outboard motor and head back to shore. Something caught her eye; a flash of white, bobbing on the surface of the lake about twenty yards away. She thought for a moment that it might be the bass, floating belly-up. But no, this was too large. A drowned deer? An albino gator?

Another log bumped the hull. Was she imagining things, or was she drifting away from the dock?

She turned to gauge the distance, and saw another slick, white mass shining in the moonlight, then disappear beneath the dock. Then another. She glanced starboard and just below the surface was a woman’s body, naked and face-down, white hair waving like seaweed.

Something scraped the underside of the boat and snapped her back to the present. She lunged for the outboard. Pale hands rose over the port side and grasped the hull. Before she understood what they were doing, the boat rolled, and she was overboard, upside-down in the dark water. The lake’s chill knocked the breath out of her. She struggled for the surface, but they were on her, dragging her away from the moonlight by the ankles. A hand pressed against the top of her head, like Papa had done when he tried to drown the wickedness inside her, singing, shall we gather at the river? in a voice that boomed against the bathroom tiles but was hollow and tuneless by the time it reached her ears. She opened her eyes, but Papa wasn’t there—it was Wally. Fat, naked; thin blond hair ringing his face like a dented halo, he brought his thin lips to her ear and whispered, You were so empty all this time. Just a space where a person should be.

“Yes,” she heard herself say, though she lacked the air for words.

We can fix that, he said, and pressed his mouth to hers harder than he ever dared in life. Pinprick explosions flashed behind her eyelids, and it flooded into her: All the sorrow, the humiliation, the agony, the fear—but also exultation, joy, and love so strong it crushed. Every cell in her body felt about to burst open.

That was a taste. That was a life in a heartbeat. There are so many down here.

He smiled as he sank.

Why don’t you stay?

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

I used rules 1 and 4, mainly 4 insofar as I completely "cut" one story and wrote another one at the last possible second. Oh well.

Mother's Day
1729 words

The call came at seven PM on a Sunday. Mom wasn't doing good, dad said. A pulmonary embolism, complicated by existing lung disease from a lifetime of smoking. I sat with my head in my hands for a while after I hung up the phone, emotions too mixed to name. My father was in good health, fit and agile for a sixty-four year old man. My mother had always regretted having kids young, and spent her midlife greedily reclaiming the youth I took from her.

So I sat. Until the guilt and anxiousness were like klaxons drowning out all of my other thoughts. She was dying, that was the truth of it. People don't get better at her age, they just die slower or faster. Life without her wouldn't be so different, but the thought of her suffering through each breath, wondering until the last moment if she would see her daughter again made my heart clench and my eyes blur with tears.

I'd told my father I would make the three hour drive to St. Vincent hospital that night. Wind buffeted me on the way to the car and the road was already white with a thin dusting of snow. I worried vaguely about my own safety, but in that moment it felt like such a small thing when my mother, my mother, was dying in a hospital bed.

The storm caught up to me three miles outside of Moncton, a sleepy little mill town in the basin of a river valley. Soon there was no difference between the snow falling from the sky and the snow swirling on the ground. My headlights were worse than useless.

When I saw the sign that said 'lodging,' I turned without thinking. It was a handsome bed and breakfast, perched on a hillside that probably offered a lovely view of the town in the summer. My car barely made it up the long drive, which was completely covered in fresh snow, and my heart sank when I didn't see any other vehicles parked outside the little inn.

Still, a light was on in one of the windows. Better to try my luck than resign myself to sleeping in the car, I thought.

A small plaque by the front stair named the place as Gran's, which I decided was encouraging. I tried the door and found it unlocked. The foyer was warm and inviting, cluttered with knickknacks and a lectern holding what looked to be a guestbook.

"Just a minute," a woman's voice called, reedy with age. She shuffled around the corner and stopped when she saw me, putting a hand to her mouth.

"Excuse me, are you closed?" I took a step back toward the door.

"Oh, no, no." She rushed forward and took my hand, guiding me into a nicely appointed kitchen with a crackling woodstove. "I'm sorry, I thought you were my daughter when I first saw you." She shook her head as if to clear it. "Age does these things."

"I'm told I have one of 'those' faces," I said lightly. She didn't smile. "Look, my car is completely stuck out there. I just need somewhere to crash until this blows over."

At that she brightened. "You can have the run of the place, sweetheart. It's been a slow season, and I don't think anyone will be out tonight. Except you."

I sat on a stool next to the woodstove. "Yeah. My mom..." Suddenly the words were too hard to say. The old woman seemed to intuit the rest; she busied herself with a pot of tea, then pulled up a chair by the stove. We sat in companionable silence for several minutes.

"So are you Gran?" I asked at length.

"Abigail. Gran was my mother, Lila. She originally meant this place to go to my daughter Therese, but," she looked up at me through thinning eyelashes, "here I am."

I stared into my tea. "I can't imagine what it must be like to lose a child."

"Did your mother pass?" Abigail asked softly.

I shook my head. "Not yet."

"Then you were willing to go out into this storm, to do anything to be there with her?"

I gave a despairing laugh. "I guess not. I'm here."

"When you would do anything, any futile or vile thing to be with that person again, then you'll know what it's like to lose a child."

There was nothing to say to that, so I didn't try. When she stood to refill my tea I didn't object, hypnotized by the fire and lost in thoughts of my mother. Her face seemed to swim in the flames, gasping and straining. I struggled to keep my eyes open, more tired than I had a right to be. My head swam.

"I'm sorry mom, I have to go to bed," I murmured. The whole world shifted and I was seconds in realizing that I was on the floor.

"I know, sweetheart," Abigail said above me. One of her feet dangled near my face, and my world dwindled to the size of the polka dots on her slipper. Then I slept.


I fought consciousness. Through a haze I could feel that my body was bruised in a thousand places, and that I was naked. The floor felt different, damp and cool like packed earth. Finally, I opened my eyes, for all the good it did.

Total darkness. I struggled to my knees, head pounding with each heartbeat, and blindly groped until my hand collided with rough metal. Bars. My heart raced faster as I felt around my cage. It was five by five feet at most, with one side made completely of cement. I hadn't expected an exit; there wasn't one.

I sank back down into the fetal position, not wanting to believe or even acknowledge my circumstances. Again I saw my mother, this time in the black behind my eyelids. Or were my eyes open? Was I seeing or dreaming?

Abigail. The night came back to me in a rush of vague memories. The tea. She'd dosed it with something, of course. Her gnarled hands under my arms dragging me across the floor. Stairs digging into my back.

Time passed and Abigail didn't return. I clutched myself against the cold and prayed and bargained and imagined what I would say to her when she came for me.

Eventually I had to pee, to my dismay. There was nothing for it except to crouch in the corner of my cage and try to aim outward. After hours of silence, the sound was deafening.

Something rustled in the darkness of the room beyond. I wedged myself against the back wall, as far away from the edges of the cage as I could get.

"Abigail?" I whispered.

Several beats of silence, then: "...Amaaa? Ah?" The rustling came again, closer. "Ah? Ah?" I felt the wind of a limp reaching through the bars and put my hand in my mouth to keep from whimpering. "Amahama ah, ah?" The thing moved around the cage, garbling inquisitively. I held perfectly still, only breathing when my lungs absolutely screamed for air.

After an eternity the thing gave a frustrated moan and shuffled back to the other side of the room. I sat against the wall, knees drawn close to my chest, and stared straight ahead. This is hell, I thought. I died in a car crash and this is where girls who don't visit their mothers enough go...

Then came the sound of a latch lifting, and brilliant daylight shone down into a squalid basement. Abigial hobbled down a flight of stairs with a lantern in her hand and snowflakes trailing behind her.

"Ama, ama, ama, ama," the thing chanted in its maimed voice. Skeletal, draped with loose hanging flesh, the desiccated corpse of a young woman dragged itself to Abigail's feet.

"I know, sweetheart. You've almost used this one all up. But look, I found someone new. She even looks like you."

"Abigail! Please, I have to see my mother. Please just let me go see my mom, ok?"

Abigail raised her lantern to peer at me, then made a clucking noise. "I'm going to have to wash you off now, you know," she said, noticing the pool in the corner of my cage. The thing pulled itself over

to the bars, skin rasping like sandpaper on the floor of the basement, and made a haphazard grab for my ankle.

"Move back, Therese," Abigail said. She'd traded her lantern for a bucket of water. It was so cold it burned when she sluiced me down, and I recoiled into the far corner of the cage.

"Why are you doing this?" I sobbed. "What the gently caress is this?"

Abigail said nothing, but went to a work bench and picked up a long, ornate looking dagger and knelt. Therese, or something like her, wriggled over and rolled onto her back like a trained animal. And then Abigail plunged that knife into the corpse's belly, drawing it upward toward the solar plexus.

The body ripped, its whole abdomen splitting, dry, dead meat falling away from bone to reveal a beating heart sheltered in a cage of ribs.

And here was I, a living body in a cage of iron.

When you would do anything, any futile or vile thing to be with that person again...

Abigail gently lifted the heart from the body and set it on a tray, still beating. "Your mother

will not have to grieve you," she said to me, and pulled a tranquilliser gun from a rack on the wall. "I refuse to grieve my daughter." She loaded the dart and aimed.

"Please let me see my mother," I whispered.

"You will," Abigail said, and fired.


I woke in one of the guest rooms, little worse for wear except for a long scab running down the length of my sternum. Sun shone in through cracks in the curtain, and the inn smelled like delicious breakfast.

I padded downstairs to the kitchen where the woodstove already burned merrily and mother was busy over a skillet flipping bacon. I kissed her weathered old cheek, then stretched, testing the new body that looked so much like how she remembered me, young and fair-haired and blue-eyed.

Yes, I thought. This body will keep mother happy for a long time.

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010

I got it wrong. Look, I'm well aware I got it wrong and uh, I got it wrong.


One hour remains We are waiting on:

sebmojo
Capntastic
The Saddest Rhino
V for Vegas
swaziloo
Benagain
Canadian Surf Club
Zack_Gochuck

Get loving cracking. You all get the time right when Sebmojo uses the timezone so there's not going to be any mercy for deadline-missers. I'm going to have a hard time telling all you losers apart next week.

SurreptitiousMuffin fucked around with this message at Jan 20, 2013 around 10:47

toanoradian
May 30, 2011

The happiest waffligator


^ Sorry, MuffMunchMan, I didn't see your post.

According to this, there's less than 1 hour left!!! Come on, V for Vegas, despair us with yer mighty works!

toanoradian fucked around with this message at Jan 20, 2013 around 10:07

Capntastic
Jan 13, 2005

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

Fallen Rib

Deep Sleep
(1743 words, Vonnegut points 2 and 3.)


Travis's heel hit the ground, and though he felt no movement in the layers of densely packed dust, it sent up a little cloud around his ankle. Someone had told him that the state got its name from being a zone that was inhospitably arid. Even though he looked it up and found the rumor to be false, it still had a halo of truth to it. Not that Travis was seeking anything beyond a job, a home, and freedom from family drama, friend drama, and cop drama. Money and priorities accounted for, Arizona was the only place he could afford to live.

Here on the outskirts was a wind blasted skeleton of a residential neighborhood. A small grid of empty dessicated houses unseparated by lawns, fences, or pavement. Just staked down into the beaten dust and left to dry in the sun. His own house, on the corner, was diagonal to the only living thing between his own heartbeat and the horizon: a meager electrical substation, gradually being affecting rust to allow it to blend into its environment better. Until some money came in, this would be the closest he'd have to a television. He creaked up the steps towards his new home.

He settled in seconds after he turned the key, throwing his blanket down into a corner and his backpack full of clothes down on top of it. He sat down against the wall on top of his nest and began poring over a newspaper he'd lifted from a gas station back in town. Without a pencil or pen with him he had to jab out the job ads that looked appealing and stack them in a crinkled little pile which he held down under his boot. Dust from outside got on them, but there was dust from outside on everything inside already. He'd have to get a broom, when he got his paycheck, along with everything else.

Sleep came easy enough. No lights making his animal brain thinking it was still day helped. The electric white noise surging in from his window was constant. The coldness of the night air filled his lungs as he slept, dragging him to a deepness in his mind. When he awoke, his dream that night was nothing more than a heavy blackness. He only tried to recall them to gauge how long he'd slept, and when faced with the stark lack of details, decided to simply get an alarm clock. To make that happen sooner, he pulled his boots on, put his stack of prospects into his denim pockets, and drove into town.

Four "No thanks, it's been filled.", four "Come back tomorrow when the boss is here.", one "You don't have your own refrigerated van?", and one "I'll give you twenty dollars to wash all these dishes." let Travis knock off from his quest with a healthy ten attempts, and twice that amount in cash in his pocket. He returned to his shack with an alarm clock, a box of cereal, and jug of water, and some toilet paper. He sat on the steps of his domain wishing he'd slipped and splurged on some cigarettes. He focused the pitch of his frustrations to that of the substation's song, and found the shadows growing longer within minutes.

He plugged the alarm in, set it for seven, and rolled up in his blanket. With his cash stuffed in one boot and the next day's leads under the other, he felt entirely in control of his life. With the electric lullaby outside, Travis went to sleep. There was blackness, again. Travis recognized this blackness; he had assumed it was simply the haze that washed over dreams as they were forgotten. Experiencing it again, there were other sensations. He was being pulled down. Not fast at all. There was almost friction between him and the blackness. Trying to turn his head, he found it to be impossible. It was as if the entire mass of the world was contained within it. Terror knifed its way through his spine as he sunk. There was a loud bang, and his eyes opened.

He was on the floor of his house, rolled up in his blanket. There was the buzz of the substation. There was light coming in through the windows. He rose, trying to remember the dream. The blackness was there still. The banging noise was familiar too. He glanced down to the floor, seeking the red display of his alarm clock. It was past noon. He'd missed the alarm. The work ethic in his mind spooled up and began moving him to hurry into his clothes, damning himself all the way. Just as he made to lace his boots up he heard a loud banging outside. He stepped to the window, and didn't see anything at the tangled jungle gym of steel and wire out front. To the side of his vision, he saw the door of the house next to him swinging open. The boards he'd seen cordoning the house off must have fallen loose. He'd have to get nails and a hammer, whenever he got around to buying the broom.

Still no work. The bosses he was told to return to visit were still gone. The new leads didn't pan out. No dishwashers had called in sick. Resisting the pull of tobacco, he poured the last of his money into the tank of his car. He took care of the house next door by putting a big rock in front of the door. He didn't stick around to poke his head in for a look around.

His own house was cold, and he ignored it as well as the humming as he picked through a more recent newspaper. Some new listings that looked decent had him setting his alarm for 6:30, making sure he dragged the thing as far away from his nest as the cord would allow. The rest of the paper, which he read until it got too dark to manage, had very little to reassure him that this town was a good stepping stone back to prosperity. Only a few pages of local news, minor crimes, a restaurant closing down, and some school administration drama. It bored him. He filled his mouth with dry frosted flakes and then finished off the last of his water.

Sleeping deeply, the dream occurred again. Slowly falling, laces of friction brushing against him. He was there for it all, conscious. He tasted the warm grittiness of soil and stone. His tongue, abstract as it was in this state, was covered with silt. He was deep in the earth, falling through it, sinking. He was being dragged through the textures of fine grit and sludge and stone. He was filled with the inertia of his descent. Miles and miles rose above him, and he was lost in thought. He snapped awake. There was the bang again. The dull wooden impact pierced through the infinite coursing rhythm of the substation. His alarm showed him that he had four hours of sleep left in him. He stood, wrapping his dusty flannel sheet around him, and cramming his feet into his boots (one of which had a few coins stashed in it), and made his way out into the dark.

He waited a moment for his eyes to adjust to the darkness before realizing they wouldn't. He made it halfway across the packed dust road before he considered what he was doing. The rock he'd used was pretty heavy. It wouldn't have just rolled away on its own. He didn't see any lights on in the house, but that didn't mean anything if he was dealing with strung out squatters or wild animals. He simply didn't know the area enough to be sure. Pinning the ideal of safety onto his fear, he turned back into his own home and huddled up in the corner with nothing to do but watch the glowing red of the alarm clock tick towards morning. He felt braver when the sun was up and he investigated the door. The rock was moved onto the steps. He opened the door a crack. There was a large brown shape in the corner of the room. He opened the door a bit more to size the beast up, and felt stupid when he realized it was a bed made up neatly with a rough wool blanked. There was a table with a hotplate and a kettle. The surprise that it wasn't rusted or full of mold was second to the surprise that Travis had a neighbor.

Fearing to be taken for an intruder, he slipped into his car and began a third day of searching for work. On the drive into town he wondered why he'd never seen a car near the lot next to his. Or heard or seen anyone. The affairs of others wasn't something he was raised to care about, but it pressed on the insides of his mind alongside the ache of being tired.

No luck on the work front, and he had to beg for cash outside of a gas station to get enough in his tank to last him the next few days. It took a toll on his pride but better that than being stranded. He got home late, and decided to try to meet his neighbor. Knocking on the door did nothing, so he chanced a second peek. There was no one in the bed, still perfectly made The kettle on the table had been joined with a waffle iron. Someone had made breakfast in the last few hours. Travis figured the man worked nights.

Travis settled in, setting his alarm clock for 10:00 so he would have a chance to sleep in. The noise of the substation filtered in through his window, through his walls, through the floor and his skull. It was like a wind that never stopped blowing, an ocean of infinite waves; simultaneous inhalations and exhalations warm within his ear. It sucked him down into sleep, down into the blackness. As he slept, in a state of almost content apathy, he never would consider that someone else was living off of his energy. Doing the things he wanted to do. Owning the things he wanted to own. Travis wouldn't want to know anyways. He didn't want anything. He just slept.

The Saddest Rhino
Apr 29, 2009

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


Early year workload, real life commitments and general poor time management means I can't get a submission satisfactorily complete in time, I hang once again my head in shame.

PS. I'm sorry toanoradian the avatar got changed again, although you might be relieved to know I do not masturbate to ponies.

swaziloo
Aug 29, 2012


Dog Days (1390 words)

Awkward ego innocent.

Kate first heard the voices on her twelfth birthday. Her mother, Janet, noticed her repeating them under her breath and told Kate to explain herself. She couldn't come up with anything acceptable, so Kate washed the dishes for a month while whispering the words to herself. She found comfort in their sound on her tongue and she wasn't about to let that go. She decided that, next time, she would just tell her mother she heard them in a dream. How could she possibly be angry about words from a dream?

From home to school, Kate walked completely across town. Mr. Hendrick's mansion abutted the street with an everlasting row of white pickets. She would let her fingers fall from board to board as she walked until she came near the driveway. He angered easily, and she didn't want him seeing her touching his fence.

Bloody ugly damaged goods.

Kate slipped at her fourteenth birthday party and hit her head on the cement border of the patio. She woke up, staring into Janet's eyes. Worry contorted her expression, but she couldn't see her mom. She could only hear the new words. Repeating rapidly--echoing into the distance. She was carried to bed and stayed there for nearly a month. The whole town expressed their concern to Janet. Houghton Integrated School made a card. All nineteen of her schoolmates signed it.

She bled for the first time that month. Janet had taken her to Doctor Robson six months before the accident, worried that something was wrong with her daughter. Kate appeared to be developing normally, but it just hadn't come. He performed a fairly unpleasant exam and told Janet that Kate was fine and that she shouldn't worry. He had spoken as though she wasn't even there.

Fallen falling failing fast.

The third time she heard the voice Kate was almost fifteen and daydreaming by the tree. A liquid-hot summer sun bombarded the school yard with radiation. Her only respite had been the shade, but then the silvery words permeated her awareness. She listened carefully, trying as hard as she could to refrain from beginning an endless repetition of the words, as she had done before, without success.

Harness hinges sinking rage.

"Why are you saying these things to me?" She asked nobody. "Harness hinges sinking rage." The voice came from everywhere at once. Kate turned in place trying to find the source. "You don't sound like my voice, so if you're in my head, you don't sound like me." She frowned. "At least, you don't sound like me in any way that I've ever sounded to me." Kate repeated the words with no effect. She repeated them again.

She was bleeding like last time. She stood and leaned against the trunk. "Who are you?" She closed her eyes. Tried to get a sense if there would be a response. She felt hands on her thighs. Felt something sniffing at her in the space beside the one she occupied. Near friends. The source of the voices.

Sizzle strangle violent path.

Kate pulled a yellow flower from a weed that grew between the tall, green grasses in the meadow. She could hear the kids in the school yard screaming and playing nearby, but she knew they couldn't see her lying naked on her clothes. Invisible rope hands were pleasuring her body, bringing her to the edge of climax over and over before letting her float back down.

"It's not very nice, what you do." She twirled the flower in her fingers. Stared at the petals. The bell rang and she heard the kids running inside. Soon all was quiet and she slept.

Drifting psycho cloudy depth.

Kate woke in a sweat. She rose an stood for a moment in her window, before she saw that her hand left a print on the curtain. For a moment she thought that the mark was sweat, but then she saw the blood. She felt it running down her leg, and thought for a moment she had started her period, but as she lowered her gaze, the gash in her side split apart and she fell to the floor.

Thirty six stitches were needed to put her back in order. The scar would wrap around her side for life, and Doctor Robson determined the wound was self-inflicted. Sheriff Jacobs didn't bother with a full report. This time, no consolations were received, and the town spoke in whispers about the sick girl and her ineffective parent.

Bulging bursting boiled spawn.

Kate slept most of the time. Her near friends caressed her and held her with rope hands when she was awake, but the pills numbed the words so that she didn't have to repeat them. She wanted to be good at something other than taking pills. She wanted to walk along the fence, letting her hand slap the boards. She wanted to lie in the field. She wanted to go inside when the bell rang. She wanted to understand where the words came from. She told Janet again, but this time she didn't wash any dishes. Janet said nothing, but a tear rolled down her cheek and more pills arrived the next day.

With heavy eyes Kate stood in the gap between the curtains and waited. The cold breeze chilled her skin. Her hairs stood on end, electric and tense, but she couldn't feel the cold. The snow didn't melt against the glass. Then they came. Hard and firm. They gripped her muscles and yanked at her limbs. She twisted and turned in place. They tore at her body, clawing deeply inside her and wrenching something loose. They grabbed her abdomen and pulled at her gut, pulled at her uterus. They held her hands and shoved something inside her. She didn't pass out, the whole thing passed in a medicated haze.

Bulging bursting boiled spawn.

Janet fainted when Kate told her she was pregnant. She left her mother there on the floor. Doctor Robson hadn't questioned her endlessly about the father. Abortion just wasn't an option. She would have it there, or she would run away. Janet didn't talk to Kate for days, but the whole town already knew. She could see it in their eyes. She could feel it when she shopped at Scotty's Market or borrowed books at the Library. She felt them staring as she walked home. She could hear their whispering behind her back, and she feared for her daughter.

An oppressive late fall sun scorched the earth the day Megan was born. Kate just lay there with little affect as the baby slid from her. Helen, the midwife, did not judge. She came from the next town--fifteen miles down Dixon road. The baby was healthy, and she spent the night with the family making sure that Kate would be able to care for her daughter. Satisfied that Kate's maternal skills were sufficient, she left the following afternoon.

Falling breaking twisted freed.

Megan, like her mother, showed little affect, and Kate withdrew further from the world around her. The Murphy boys would bring visitors down the road to stand across from Janet's house and tell the tale of the wicked family that resided inside. They expertly dramatized the few snippets of information they knew about Kate or her mother, with the climax always being the birth of the demon child on the hottest day of the year. If only they understood the true gravity of the tale they related.

When Megan was two, she pushed Janet down the stairs. Kate didn't witness the event, but Janet's neck broke as she landed. Doctor Robson assured Kate that her mother didn't suffer, and the creepy old house became Kate's property. Her grandmother began paying the bills and the meting out the insurance money.

Crawling creeping chaos death.

Kate lay in the tall grass, the rope hands caressing her flesh and holding her to the earth. She could smell the grains and the dirt. She could hear the children playing in the schoolyard. Their little voices carefree and light. She heard the bell ring and knew that Megan followed her schoolmates inside Houghton Integrated. Then she heard the screaming. She heard the screen door slam. Footsteps running away. The wheezing of a perforated lung. A desperate coughing gurgle. Demon rope hands between her legs.

toanoradian
May 30, 2011

The happiest waffligator


Less than 20 minutes left! V for Vegas, you can do it! Cut few inches off your top from going under the wire if you must!

The Saddest Rhino posted:

PS. I'm sorry toanoradian the avatar got changed again, although you might be relieved to know I do not masturbate to ponies.

wait no i shouldn't make jokes about ponies

Well, at least there's no dead rhino? Win again in this year's Christmas and maybe there'll be more presents bribery!

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010

I got it wrong. Look, I'm well aware I got it wrong and uh, I got it wrong.


Ten minutes Jesus people c'mon.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk

GOODNESS GRACIOUS ME

My freeware wordprocessor (JARTE) just seized on me and I didn't have the file saved.

that's a fail, but I'll retype it and get it in after the deadline anyway.

sebmojo fucked around with this message at Jan 20, 2013 around 11:01

toanoradian
May 30, 2011

The happiest waffligator


Oh god oh god less than 3 minutes left come on V for Vegas I once posted 1 minute before the deadline, you can do it too!

sebmojo posted:

FUCKARSE BUGGERSHIT

My freeware wordprocessor just seized on me and I didn't have the file saved.

that's a fail, but I'll retype it and get it in after the deadline anyway.

Language, please. 'A fail' is worse than YOLO and planking combined. What word processor is that?

V Good poo poo, man. But can you unquote that to make it easier to edit for critiquers?

toanoradian fucked around with this message at Jan 20, 2013 around 11:01

V for Vegas
Aug 31, 2004

THUNDERDOME LOSER

Have a little faith toanoradian!!

Iakopo - 1636

Flash rule - Indonesian man mocks foreigners for not knowing Indonesian. Actually thanks for this, the story I was working on was poo poo. This is better poo poo.

Flash rule - Rule 4. I cut a 1500 word story I had already written to write this instead.



The Fofo's shack squatted in a grove of banana trees. Thick broad leaves blocked out the bright sunlight, so the house was always dark, tucked away on the outskirts of Fagamalo. Although the village was so small everyone's house was on the outskirts. You could stand at one end of the village, next to Mama Daphoney's house where the road to Ap'uaton started, and have a conversation with a person standing on the other side of the village, so long as you spoke loudly.

Hemana and Iakopo were hiding in the long grass from Mama Daphoney who had chased after them with a broom for yelling outside her house when her shows were on.

The two boys sat still until the violence had passed like an afternoon storm blowing out to sea. Peering out, they saw the banana grove and Fofo's house.

'You know drunks get the shakes pretty bad' Hemana said. 'And he's the man who is going to cut off your pua next week at the Taumafa Ava.'

Iakopo wriggled uncomfortably. He had been thinking about the ceremony a great deal lately. Couldn't they just say he was a man, why did they need the knife?

'You know sometimes if the Fofo doesn't do it right it gets infected' Hemana continued, warming to his subject. 'If that happens they have to cut the whole thing off. Then you are a girl and you have to wear girls clothes.'

'That's bullshit' said Iakopo.

'No it isn't. My cousin said when he went to the Big Island there was a girl there who used to be a man thats what happened to him.'

'You have to get cut as well you know, it could happen to you.'

'Nu uh' said Hemana . 'I will be a man and drink lots of kava and have my pe'a inked. Poor Iakopo will have to wear a dress and sit down to piss.'

Iakopo punched Hemana in the arm. 'Shut up, you are full of poo poo.'

'My cousin told me the Fofo keeps a jar of the skins he cuts off during at the Ava in the house.'

'Your cousin says a lot of things Hemana , most of them stupid poo poo lies he makes up.'

'He swears it's there, you calling me a liar?'

'I'm calling your cousin a shithead.'

'Alright if you don't believe me, go and look.'

'In the Fofo's house? No way.'

'Go on, I dare you. You have to go touch the jar - or, or I will tell Laura that you had a dream about her.'

'You said you would never tell anyone that.'

'I won't,' smiled Hemana . 'If you go in.'

'You're full of poo poo.'

'Full of poo poo am I? Well then go into the Fofo house and see how full of poo poo I am. The jar's there, I swear it. Go on, you know he is going to be sleeping off all the kava he drank last night' encouraged Hemana .

Iakopo nodded, there had been a big celebration last night, with all of the adults standing around drinking into the early morning. The Fofo always attended these big celebrations, drinking more kava than anyone and burping into the faces of the women which he thought was hilarious, letting out a earth shaking laugh from his gut which hung out over the front of his pants. This would usually lead to a fight with the husband of the woman he belched over, and he would forget himself and start yelling in his native Javanese while he punched away at his opponent until both sides were pulled apart by the rest of the menfolk. The fight over, he would promptly forget all about it, drink more kava and commence burping again, starting the whole cycle over. This would continue until he passed out several hours later and was dragged back to his hut, snoring heavily.

Iakopo and Hemana watched the shack. Loud snores were coming from the windows, clearly audible where the boys sat, fifty yards away.

'Alright I'll do it, but you better not say anything to Laura.'

'Of course not!' said Hemana.

Iakopo knelt into a crouch and began to scurry towards the shack. Passing under the banana trees, he felt felt a shiver as his hot skin came into contact with the cool air. Snores were still coming from the window nearest him. He came up to the junk scattered around the house, old rusty metal drums, a VW bus that hadn't moved in thirty years and half a dozen chickens pecking the dirt.

Iakopo slowly moved around the back of the house. The back porch here was also piled high with trash, but the back door was wide open, leading into the blackness of the house.

Iakopo stepped up onto the lintel and stopped for a second peering down the dark hallway. His heart had started beating heavily. He looked around, Hemana had followed him around and was crouching behind an old oil drum at the edge of the yard. He waved his hand at Iakopo to keep going.

Iakopo turned around, took a deep breath and stepped inside the Fofo's house.

***

The hallway stretched down the entire length of the house. To the left was a small kitchen, filled with empty beer bottles and cockroaches. The snores were still coming from the front of the house. To the right was a closed door. Iakopo opened it and walked into the room.

He immediately came face to face with frozen screams etched onto shrunken heads, beaded together on a grisly necklace. Iakopo looked around. Heads, heads and more heads. From floor to ceiling, row after row, the room was full of heads.

'Tui Fiti save me' thought Iakopo 'this is much worse than the pua jar.'

Iakopo stood silent. It was then he realised he could no longer hear the Fofo snoring. Just as he tried to turn to go an enourmous hand grabbed the top of his head, squeezing it in a vice grip.

'Oh ho' came the deep throated voice of the Fofo from behind Iakopo. 'What is here? Little dewan?' The Fofo shook Iakopo violently. 'Well?'

Iakopo sputtered, 'Uh yes sir. Um, no, um. What's a dewan?'

'Bah, stupid uncivilised islanders. Why you come into Fofo house? To steal from Fofo? Yes?

'No' said Iakopo . 'It was a, I mean, it was a dare to come in and see the pua jar'

The Fofo looked blankly at Iakopo . 'The what?' He thought for a second looking at the boy and then a smile grew across his broad face. A deep belly rumble began as he began to chuckle. 'Oh ho, little boy. You have not had the chop chop yet, and come to see what the fuss is about. Does Fofo keep all the boys little trophies after he takes them off. Time to see, yes yes, time to see.' He dragged Iakopo out of the room and across the hall into the kitchen. He cleared off some bottles from the table and pointed at it. 'Sit there' he commanded Iakopo . Iakopo sat on the table as the Fofo turned around to the cabinet.

'Oh ho, so the boy wants to see the crazy old Fofo, well, well, that is for a good reason these things will be happening.' He turned back to Iakopo holding a carving knife in his hands.
'And now little boy. You will see what it is to be man.'

Iakopo looked at the knife and bolted off the table, but the Fofo's hand snaked out grabbing his arm, dragging him back to the table. 'Now now, little boy, do not run from Fofo.' With that, the Fofo took Iakopo's hand, placing the handle of the knife into it. Then the Fofo, guiding Iakopo's hand, plunged the blade into his own heart.

***

Iakopo stared, his hand still on the knife jutting from the Fofo's chest. The Fofo grunted, blood spurting out from around the blade that had been embedded in his sternum. His dropped down to his chest and he began to intone in his sonorous voice:

Le Fe'e e! faafofoga mai ia
O au o Fale le a tulai atu nei.
Le Fe'e e! au mai ia ou mūmū fua
Sei tau a'i le taua nei.


The Fofo looked up.

'Now Iakopo, son of Eloni, son of Fetu, the last living son of Tui Fiti. You have killed a man. My blood, the blood of the Fofo, is spilled. When the time comes, you will know the gods and the spirit of Salevao will come for you.'

The Fofo took hold of the knife and, grunting, wrenched it out of his chest. He grabbed a towel off the table, holding it to the gaping wound as he slid to the floor. He looked up at Iakopo.

'Pretty good eh boy?' He winked and smiled before grimacing against the pain.

'Are you alright Fofo?' asked Iakopo. 'Do you want me to call the ambulance?'

'No, no' said the Fofo. 'I will be alright. Bring that jar of kava on the bench.'

Iakopo took the jar and held it up to the Fofo's lips. He drank deeply until it was emptied.

'You better go now' said the Fofo. 'I will be alright I said, now go' he snapped.

Iakopo stood up, and walked out of the house. He walked passed Hemana and down the main street of Fagamalo. Hemana ran after him.

'Iakopo' he yelled, what happened to you? Why are you covered in blood? Why are you holding your arms up like that Iakopo. Iakopo? Why are you laughing?'

V for Vegas fucked around with this message at Jan 20, 2013 around 11:03

The Saddest Rhino
Apr 29, 2009

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


toanoradian posted:

wait no i shouldn't make jokes about ponies

Well, at least there's no dead rhino? Win again in this year's Christmas and maybe there'll be more presents bribery!

Strangely enough it was this http://forums.somethingawful.com/sh...0#post411688031 that made the magic happen.

Ctrl-p ing your post now to hold you to your word by the way

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010

I got it wrong. Look, I'm well aware I got it wrong and uh, I got it wrong.


aaaaaaaand that's time. V for Vegas shoots in under the line and sebmojo will be given leniency, if only for his sterling prior record in the 'dome.

Also because he both looks and acts like the bastard lovechild of Bob Ross and Syrio Forel. That goes a long way with me.


SHAMEFUL LOSERS

Benagain
Canadian Surf Club
Zack_Gochuck

HONOURABLE SEPPUKU

for braving the thread despite his failure, The Saddest Rhino may choose whether he gets a losertar or not. I am a merciful god.

toanoradian
May 30, 2011

The happiest waffligator


The Saddest Rhino posted:

Ctrl-p ing your post now to hold you to your word by the way

Too bad by this Christmas I'll be permabanned for being too machismoistic for this thread.


it's true, i read it in my horoscope and they're never wrong

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk

The Saddest Rhino posted:

REDTEXTREDTEXTREDTEXT

Holy jesus, Rhino, how do you get people so mad

toanoradian
May 30, 2011

The happiest waffligator


Clearly his/her very existence offends those with non-sad rhinoceros privileges.

Oxxidation
Jul 22, 2007

a negative influence


sebmojo posted:

Holy jesus, Rhino, how do you get people so mad

In this case I think it's because he plugged something from the self-published thread, which is a great way to get people mad, because posts from the self-published thread usually need a few deep breaths and fifteen to twenty minutes of meditation to deal with.

The Saddest Rhino
Apr 29, 2009

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


Maybe they hate my liberal approach to tenses.

SurreptitiousMuffin posted:


HONOURABLE SEPPUKU

for braving the thread despite his failure, The Saddest Rhino may choose whether he gets a losertar or not. I am a merciful god.

I think I'll hold on to this redtext for a while so that whoever bought it can just seethe in rage every single day I post yet am miraculously not permabanned.

Oxxidation posted:

In this case I think it's because he plugged something from the self-published thread, which is a great way to get people mad, because posts from the self-published thread usually need a few deep breaths and fifteen to twenty minutes of meditation to deal with.

I would honestly be very disturbed if anyone bought that book due to me "plugging" it there.

Benagain
Oct 10, 2007

Student of the principle art of posting

Fun Shoe

Welp I'm an rear end in a top hat. Thank god I'm used to the feeling of crippling shame.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

IDK if it's cool to fix spacing, but I posted mine when I was half asleep and I see some goofy spacing that I didn't catch in preview. If it's not cool then judges please use your imaginations thanks.

twinkle cave
Dec 20, 2012


THUNDER DOME WEEK XXIV - TWINKLE CRIT

Hope You Guessed My Name 1666 words - Chairchucker

Jeremy had gotten the old book from Old Mordecai’s Book Emporium. The store was not actually owned by a Mordecai, but Old Simon’s Book Emporium lacked the authentic old timey ring that he felt customers expected from a quaint, dusty second-hand store such as his. Jeremy had not paid for the book, of course. And he’d gotten it more as a backup in case he ran out of toilet paper than with any intent of reading it. That one page had caught his eye, though. (i like the toilet paper and stealing, but not the old-timey stuff. good opening. a mysterious book and a thief)

Ritual fore Summoning yon power full Being.

Jeremy had seen Aladdin. He knew what was what(hahaha.... not exactly King, but i like a character who know's what is what from watching Disney). He was gonna summon the hell out of this creature. (ha)

Peter was less confident. “Eye of newt? Why’s it always gotta be eye of newt? That’s gross, dude. C’mon man, forget this crazy ritual, let’s go down to the pub and see what time Lily gets off. If you know what I mean.”

Jeremy ignored him. “If you’re not gonna help me summon this critter, I might not let you have any of the wishes.”

“And when I say ‘what time Lily gets off’” explained Peter “I meant ‘will she have sex with us.’ And I’m pretty sure the answer is yes. Yes she will.” (A regular trois)

Jeremy had finished liberally sprinkling limbs of various hapless animals around the barn. “OK, be quiet for a moment, I’ve gotta read these words out.” And he did. (i like this too, especialy "sprinkling...hapless animals")

“See, doesn’t work” said Peter. “Pub time. And by pub time, I mean-“ (good characterization, repeats his way)

And suddenly, there was the creature. It looked down at the two of them. “Hmmm” it said. “Not precisely what I expected.”

“Yes!” said Jeremy. “Hell! Yes! I summoned the hell out of that creature!” (but repeating this sounded a little choppy)

“Other way around, actually” said the creature.

“Huh?” said Jeremy. Then “Give me my three wishes.”

“That’s not really my thing.” (lol... a little more farcical than frightening... but yeah, i dig it. reminds me of movie "lo")

“I think this is a mistake” said Peter. “We should put that thing back where we got it from and go to the pub.”

“Shut up” said Jeremy, then to the creature “Don’t give me your excuses, I’m your master now. Make with the wishes.”

The creature looked down at the ground. “Nice warding circle there.”

“What?” Jeremy looked where the creature was looking. “Yeah. Followed the directions closely.”

“You know,” said the creature “some people like to put the warding circle in such a location that it protects themselves from what they’re summoning. Just a thought for your very short future.” It took one step towards Jeremy and stared into his eyes. Jeremy stared back, suddenly shivering. “Jeremy Wright. Car theft. Torturing small animals to summon a powerful creature. Doing knock and runs at people’s houses and leaving a steaming turd in a brown paper bag on their doorstep, you disgusting maggot. How do you plead to these charges, before I go ahead and devour your soul for your sins?” (the weight of car thief vs poo poo bag stomping is off. the escalation of criminal acts dictates that his pranks must be more original and devastating if he has the gonads/anti-social tendencies to steal cars)

The defendant responded by soiling himself.(that loses me completely. it doesn't follow. ) Peter did not witness the ensuing unpleasantness, because he’d decided that discretion was the better part of valour.

“Ah, scarpered, eh?” said the creature. “That’s cool. I’ll still get there before you.”(WHAT DOEST THIS MEAN?)

-

It was a slow evening at the pub. Peter was not there yet, so it was just Edward, and he was not a happy drunk. He was not happy sober, either. Lily was pretending to wipe the counter so that Edward wouldn’t talk to her, and Joe behind the bar had been studiously cleaning a wine glass for the better part of an hour.(good actions... i get a sense of Edward right away) Lily started as the door opened.

“Welcome!” she said. “We don’t get many strangers here. What’ll you have?” (i feel like this is probably goofy. if he is a "creature" then the response isn't so common. )

The creature stared down at her. “I’m just waiting for someone.”

“A drink’ll make the wait shorter! What’s your name, anyway, stranger?” (she sounds like a crazy person "stranger" know one says this twice. but, maybe ok, as this story is off its rocker anyway)

“Rupert” said Rupert the creature. He stalked over to the bar. “Perhaps I will see a wine list.”

“Here you go” said Lily, handing it over. “If you don’t mind me saying so, Rupert, you look a little strange. Are you from Canada or something? I’ve heard there’s some weird looking folk up that way.” (bonus points for slighting Canada)

“May I have the house red?” asked Rupert. “And in answer to your question, I am a demon. From Hell.”

“Not heard of them” said Lily. “Are they one of them bikie gangs? Is that what those symbols on your chest are about? And the facial piercings? And the body modifications around the head?” (ok, sourta describes why she doesn't give a hoot. i do like the idea of this demon showing up and everyone being "whatever dude")

“What? No. I devour souls.”

“Are you coming onto me, Rupert?” asked Lily. “Because I’m down for pretty much anything, but anything too weird will cost extra.” (hah)

Joe had gotten a glass of the house red and placed it before Rupert, who, welcoming an opportunity to put his perplexing conversation with Lily on hold, sipped it thoughtfully. “This is one of the better wines I’ve ever had the privilege to have tasted!” he said. “And let me tell you, I have sampled many a wine. Do you brew it yourself?”(are wines brewed? (no aged according to the infinite information machine) umm.. or is he just talking stupid, like the line before)

Joe nodded, and was about to say something when the door was thrown open dramatically and Peter burst in.

“Ah,” said Rupert “you’ve arrived.”

“Oh, hi Peter.” said Lily. “If you’re here for your usual you’ll have to wait, Rupert was here first. But I’m sure I’ll have plenty of energy for you as well.”

“Just concentrate on the waitressing, eh?” said Joe.

“Right, well we’ll have to put all of that on hold” said Rupert “because now that our mate - Peter, was it? - has arrived, I can finish what we started down at the barn.”

He gestured and the bar door swung shut and locked.

“Hey buddy” said Edward, in the voice of someone who did not want to be his buddy, “I dunno what the hell your problem is, but I’ve been trying to drink my beer in peace here, and I’m finding that mighty difficult with all your talking.” (ha again)

“Ah, you’ll be first then” said Rupert, and stared into his eyes. “Edward Treager. Hitting your wife. A lot.”

“What?” said Lily. “She told me she walked into the wall. And the door frame. And-“

“She knows what she did wrong” growled Edward.

“May I finish?” asked Rupert. “Now, I’m gonna go ahead and devour his soul if there’re no objections.”

“Uh, that’s a bit weird” said Lily “but whatever you’re into.”

“Although in principle I’m opposed to the devouring of souls,” said Peter,

“Prude” said Lily.

“I’m prepared to make an exception under the circumstances,” continued Peter “namely the circumstances of Edward being a wife beater.”

“Whatever” said Edward “don’t sling that mumbo jumbo with me, there’s no such thing as a soul.”

“Well,” said Rupert “let me know if at any point you decide to reconsider your position on the subject.”

It is possible that reconsidering his position on the existence of the eternal soul was among the things that Edward screamed, but the onlookers couldn’t really tell what with the unpleasantness that was going on with his face and his eyes and his limbs going every which way, and the bleeding, and then Peter fainting and Lily and Joe helping him up and onto a stool and by the time they’d helped him up the screaming and dying and general unpleasantness had been taken care of, and Rupert was standing in front of a lifeless pile of meat, and Peter looked over and fainted again. (kitchy, but you pretty much abandoned hope on this being very serious or anything. in order to be true comedy, don't take the easy way out on language. stick to original and real sentences. it just has that feel of "i'm having a good time writing this, and i don't really give a flip about you dear reader")

Rupert turned and stared now into Joe’s eyes. “Joe Ketch.” He paused. “On second thoughts, you’re last. The man who brews that wine deserves that much.” He stared into Lily’s eyes instead. “Lily Helmsworth. Uh. Hmmm. Oh, and… right.” He thought about it for a moment, then “I’ll just file that lot under fornication, shall I?”

“Try me, first” said a new voice. Rupert turned to look at the lady who had spoken, standing in the open doorway. (enter the hero?)

“Pretty sure I locked that” said Rupert.

The newcomer ignored him and walked over to the bar. “House red please, Joe.”

“Good choice” said Rupert. “I’ll let you have a bit of that before I go ahead and devour your soul.”

“Appreciate it” she said. Money and wine changed hands, and she sipped on her drink. Then she swivelled on her barstool to face Rupert. “Go on, then.” (ex machina coming, but i like that poo poo)

Rupert shrugged and stared into her eyes. “Gloria Sloane. Um. Hmmm.”

Gloria took another sip of her wine. “Go on.”

“Come on, this isn’t possible. Everyone has something.”

Gloria shrugged a shrug of her own. “I traded.”

She stood up, and Rupert took a step back. “Come on now, that ain’t playing fair. You gotta pay your own debts!”

“Guess now you’re figuring out who I’m representing?” Rupert nodded, frowning. “So either you can leave, or I can have a few words with Him and He can make you leave. One will be less pleasant than the other.” (lol... literally deus ex machina)

“I can’t do that” said Rupert. “This is what I do.”

Glorio shrugged, and then said a few words. When she was done speaking, Rupert was gone. (Glorio - gloryhole)

“What was all that nonsense?” asked Peter, who had just recovered from his second fainting spell.

“Hebrew” said Gloria. “A bit rusty, hope I got the inflections right. Got the main points across, though.” She looked over at what was left of Edward. “I’m sorry I got here too late for him.”

“I’m not” said Lily.

Gloria raised an eyebrow but didn’t pursue the matter further. “Joe, your wine is as spectacular as ever.” She handed the empty glass back. “So. In light of this evening’s events, any chance I’ll see you lot Sunday morning?” (haha... that wine dude. best character. spit-shining glasses)

That lot looked at their feet a lot and mumbled things about liking to sleep in, and Sunday morning being such an awful time to do anything, it really ruined the weekend, you know? Gloria nodded. “Well, I’ll be there if any of you change your mind.” She turned to go. (kill lot/lot)

“Think I’ll head home as well” said Peter.

“It’s gonna cost extra if you want me to clean that up” said Lily, when they’d both left.

-------------
Chairchucker you zany madcamp you. This was funny, and according to THUNDERDOME wannabe King

“A tragedy is a tragedy, and at the bottom, all tragedies are stupid. Give me a choice and I'll take A Midsummer Night's Dream over Hamlet every time. Any fool with steady hands and a working set of lungs can build up a house of cards and then blow it down, but it takes a genius to make people laugh.”
― Stephen King

but, in short, it needs work. I thought this was going to be even more weird than it was, like the demon was going to be summoned to what he thought was earth, but this small town was actually some place where people had no souls and etc, stuff ensues. I don't advise making a career out of this kinda story that sorta laughs a little too much at its own slapdashery, but again I laughed. One thing too, if you're going to go absurd, get really loving absurd. A story like this depends on throwing as many awkward turns and punches as possible, you coulda got more in.

You're sentenced to the green mile where John Coffee refuses to resuscitate your soul because you wanked it to much in your bunk.
DEATH


EDIT: I just remembered the first one has to be funny. Good job. Still DEATH though.

twinkle cave fucked around with this message at Jan 21, 2013 around 00:10

twinkle cave
Dec 20, 2012


THUNDER DOME WEEK XXIV - TWINKLE CRIT

Nightmares - Etherwind


I'm not the simple girl they think I am.

I.

I'd gone to bed early, exhausted. One moment the clock on my dresser said eight, the next I struggled to see through half-shut eyes, paralyzed and afraid. The effort was painful - like forcing my face through a two-inch hole - but I managed to make out the time: just after one. I shivered and sweated, my chest heavy, and in the corner of my eye a silhouette stretched over the covers. I choked as it turned toward me, then fell back through the hole.

II.

When I woke the room was bright, the clock back at eight. Distorted talk radio blared from its tinny speaker. I was more tired than before, but any hope of rest went out the door as it opened.

"Constance! Get your lazy rear end up!" My grandma. "You ain't paid to sleep!"

The door slammed. I groaned. I was due at the diner in an hour, but gently caress her anyway. I stumbled out of bed and into the bathroom, leaned on the tiles as the shower washed away the worst of the night. I took too long, ran behind with my make up, but I still had to avoid her conversation as I left the house.

Canton is a lovely town, too far from New York to be anything but another also-ran, the kind of disappointment that makes them say "I thought you meant the city." The diner was opposite Planned Parenthood, and Pro-Life protesters littered the sidewalk as I ran through the kitchen door.

"Joe called in sick." The manager was Hailey, and her bad news always came with a smile. "That means you're scrubbing dishes."

"I bus tables."

"Not today you don't," her eyes turned hard, "unless you want nine-oh-five on your sheet again. Put on the gloves." She watched me go to the sink - cheeks hot to the touch - then headed out front.

"Tough luck," the fry cook grinned.

I ignored him. Since high school I was used to the phrase, used to sucking it up and doing my best when I got the blame and some rear end in a top hat got the handshake. It was still hard not to cry as I scraped the first plate and plunged it into brownish water.

My teachers had told me I was set for bigger places than Canton. Even if I went to St. Lawrence, they said, it would be on scholarship, and a degree would open up the world. I had a way with words and a head for reading critically. I could escape my childhood problems through academic success. Not that it mattered: my deadbeat mom could suck dick for heroin, for all I cared. (too much exposition, and just a weak character. no joy. also, you're holding me in suspense about what the first section was about, but more in an annoying way than in a excited way)

Then I flunked the SAT, twice. The first time they believed me when I said I felt tired, sent me to the doctor and scheduled a resit. People can be kind when they think you have prospects. The second went worse than the first and - just like that - nobody gave a gently caress. Part-time work as a waitress was all I could manage. (all this could be reduced to, "i hosed up at life, now i'm a waitress", and get on with the story. are you writing this fir someone to enjoy, or to rehash the litany of excuses we all hear from everyone everywhere, plus again, its weak minded. interesting characters don't bask in whinery, she should just give the middle finger to the world. its a story about something scary, not about another dropout)

For five long years.

III.

The street lights were flickering when I got home. In my room I stripped off the uniform and threw it in the corner: it would lie there another couple of days. My hands were red and my mind blank as I stared up at the peeling ceiling, sat on my bed in a cramped room that felt tighter than my skin. Not for the first time, my eyes went to the bottom drawer of the dresser. I locked the door first. (whole paragraph = good description)

The gun was cold in my hands, a snub-nosed revolver, petite and black with two bullets in the cylinder. I'd found it at a gas station not long after flunking the second time: everything I was taught had told me to turn it in. Instead I'd driven home. On really bad days I would study it, comforted by the thought that I could go out with a bang whenever I wanted. (i can see that. might try showing this more than telling. like "I put the gun in my mouth. The grips where slightly worn from 5 years of doing this nightly" or whatever)

"Constance?" I jumped, thrust the gun under my pillow. My grandma was annoyed. "You need to go talk to that polack."

I glanced over to next door, a single window illuminating the dark. I didn't know the owner, Pryzbylewski: he kept to himself.

"Tell him he needs to mow his lawn or I'll report him!" My grandmother was a bitch to everyone. "You hear me?"

"I hear you; go away." I didn't like how petulant I sounded, and fumed as I threw on fresh clothes. (good self-recognition moment)

Outside the lawn was badly overgrown, the low house crouched above the grass like a waiting predator. I banged the screen door for minutes. Eventually a gaunt, middle-aged man peered through it. (cool first sentence.)

"Who are you?" he asked in a whisper, all thin spectacles and worry.

"I'm Connie. We're neighbors." I was aware how I looked, hair greasy and sweater faded. "You need to mow."

"My gardener is sick. It can wait."

I was too tired to argue. "Whatever, mow it or we'll report you to..." I didn't know who. "We'll report you!" I turned away in embarrassment.

"I'll pay you to do it," he quietly called after. "Fifty dollars?"

I stopped. That was more than half what I earned in a day. "You for real?"

"Fifty dollars," he repeated, "if you cut it." He shut the door. (sweet. good exchange and turn)

IV.

Later that night it returned. I strained as static filled the room, tried desperately to reach for the clock on my dresser. Fear held me - curled on my side - until a sharp head leaned into my mute but screaming face. (so, i'm thinking this is another dream... maybe like that frozen sleep waking thing)

After that, it was nearly evening before I made it back to Pryzbylewski. A note on his door directed me to his mower and the compost heap; I went to work.

Why was I having nightmares? Too many reasons. I'd read about sleep paralysis - before my grandma cut the Internet - and knew the symptoms. The April sunshine made the last two nights less frightening, but I worried as I struggled through the back lawn. ("cut the internet" is throw away)

Pryzbylewski was surprised when I knocked and asked for water.

"You live next door." He realized how tired I felt and let me into his kitchen, reluctantly, telling me to keep my voice down with a glance at the ceiling.

"Someone sleeping?"

He ignored the question and gestured to the tap. "Help yourself." Everything about him was subdued, reserved, his hair shaved close, shirt plain. I caught a glimpse of a hallway as he left through the other door. (good para)

I finished the job in another hour, and by then it was dusk. Inside I knocked on the door and waited: no response. I called out his name as I turned the handle, hoping he would appear.

The hallway was dark and my eyes adjusted gradually. I felt my skin prickle, then realized: the walls and ceiling were covered in crucifixes. All sizes blanketed them, some with tortured figure and some plain, all made of metal and firmly secured. (i can see this. very creepy)

I was about to leave when I saw light, followed it with growing dread into an elaborate study. Books were strewn across the floor, shelves stacked high, but my eyes stayed on a row of unlit candles against the opposite wall. Newspaper clippings were stuck there - covering more crosses - and when I read the headlines, pale, I recognized local obituaries.

"What are you doing?"

I breathed as he came into the room. "I was looking for-"

"Here's your money." He was frosty as he handed it over, pushed me to the door. "Now get out!" (good)

Back home I shivered, thoughts on the shrine as I gave the pay to my grandma. As I left the room she asked, "Are you going to the funeral?"

I stared at the floral pattern on the back of her chair. "What funeral?"

"I tried to tell you yesterday: Mrs. Williams passed.

"The funeral is tonight!" she called, irate, as I went into my bedroom and locked the door. I looked out at the single lit window across the fresh cut grass; it was a long time until I slept.

V.

The last night it came I was not so far gone, and I could see the clock clearly as the white noise pressed down. From the corner of my eye I saw it slink toward my bed, all angles and points, razor hands held up in font of its head - no face - until it reached my side and I felt buzzing pins bite into my legs. I gasped, choked, wanted to scream, groped feeble and blind as it leaned in-

Then I felt cold metal.

I sat up suddenly and without a word. It recoiled and glared with its needles as I held the gun, streaked in sweat. I pulled the trigger hard, heard the click of the empty chamber, and it ran for the wall, paint like water as it passed through. I watched it flicker across the grass and up the side of the other house until it vanished into the roof.

Pryzbylewski answered the door quickly that time. "You need to leave."

"There's something in there with you!" My hand was in my pocket.

A look of panic crossed his face, and he hurried me inside, into the study, where the candles burned. "I don't know what you think you know," he whispered as he shut the door, "but keep quiet and-"

I had the gun pointed at him, and he went silent, still.

"What is it?"

He didn't answer.

"How long?" I needed to know.

"Five years." He sounded resigned. "It followed me from-"

I don't know why I killed him. I just pulled the trigger, and he hit the ground hard, moaned. As the moment stretched a static hiss flared overhead, but Pryzbylewski laughed. "Metal stops them." (this is too hard of a turn. you need to foreshadow this. "I don't know why I killed him" is weak. If something else made her do it, then "I would never do such a thing", or if this is her doing it, then "kill myself, or someone, hurt something" earlier. and even if this succubus dream freeze thing is making her do it, she could have those feelings before now, as its apparently been messing with her for a while)

"Them?" I was dazed.

He nodded, coughed up blood. "In the city, I tried to... tried..."

I cleaned the gun and left it on the floor.

VI.

I washed and changed long before the cops arrived. It felt too easy to lie, and I didn't believe I'd got away with it until they announced they had someone in custody. He owned the murder weapon.

I don't feel guilty.

Meanwhile, I got religion and redecorated my room, the only two things I've done in years that my grandma likes. Lately she's been tired; I sleep soundly. The inheritance money should be enough to get me out of Canton.

--------------
Good work. I could dig this story. I wanted to see the early exposition and first scene handled a bit better. Suspending the situation by obfuscation in the first section doesn't help any, plus it gives more opportunity to build the story. It's not a what's going on story on that point, its the reveal of the creature. The characters could be pumped up some more too. Like the grandma could be given a habit or signifying features other than being a bitch. You handled the neighbor very well though. The ending dies a little, but that's easy to fix with some rumination. Also, a general note, short stories have nothing extraneous. This is a story about a succubus, a suicidal inhabited girl, a bitchy gradma, a neighbor, and a gun. Cut everything else. Or anything that doesn't serve as mechanics to get the story going. The way it is written now, her job as a waitress has little importance, and also quite a few other things. Anyway, without line editing again, you probably get what i mean.

“Sometimes being a bitch is all a woman's got to hold on to.”
― Stephen King, Dolores Claiborne

This story reminded me of Insomnia more than Claiborne, but relevant.

Etherwind remains intact in the dome, filled with the spirit of neighbor's spirit.
LIFE

twinkle cave fucked around with this message at Jan 20, 2013 around 21:45

Meis
Sep 2, 2011



Sitting Here posted:

IDK if it's cool to fix spacing, but I posted mine when I was half asleep and I see some goofy spacing that I didn't catch in preview. If it's not cool then judges please use your imaginations thanks.

Yeah I literally fell asleep after posting last night, and the spacing is awful / non-existant so I'd like to know if that's cool also.

twinkle cave
Dec 20, 2012


THUNDER DOME WEEK XXIV - TWINKLE CRIT

areyoucontagious -
Amish Country 1343 words

It took a solid week of bargaining, begging, and nagging, but Ben finally convinced Katie to go. Ben’s obsession with antiquing had been cute when they first started dating, but after a year of marriage, Katie would have died happy never seeing another century-old end table. She knew when she got her assignment, an article on the Mennonites in Lancaster County, PA, there would be trouble on Ben’s end.

“Aren’t you excited? Think about all the history here!” Ben was looking out the window like an overeager puppy. Katie sighed, thinking about how her entire weekend was shot. If Ben hadn’t caught wind of where she was traveling, she could have been in and out in a day. Now, she was faced with at least 72 hours worth of boredom. But she loved the guy, and thus put on a happy face.

“Definitely! I can’t wait to see what some of these stores have to offer.”

Their drive took them through Adamstown, where Ben proceeded to purchase yet another coffee table, and Bird-in-Hand, where he snagged a mirror, when Katie finally had to interject.

“At some point I need to interview some people, so would you mind if we put the antiquing on hold for a bit?”

“Sure, sweetie, sorry to drag you along. You’re very good to me, did you know that?” (SUPER DUPER ---- hell no)

“I do now!” Katie smiled, and turned the car out towards the sticks.

The Mennonites in Lancaster county were a fixture in the tourism market. Many people came to the small towns scattered across the county to experience life at a different pace. Some admired the Amish for their natural, simple lives, while others came to ridicule their seemingly backwards ways. Katie had came to get their opinion on the recent tourism boom and how it affected their lives. (they aren't seemingly backwards... they are.. literally back to another time. plus, use adverbs sparingly, only when they add something. it makes you seem unsure as a story teller)

When she pulled up to the little village a half-hour outside of Bird-in-Hand, the first thing that stood out to Katie was the untarnished beauty of the landscape(re-write to, "The beauty of the untarnished landscape stood out to Katie" cleaner... plus, isn't all country land sorta untarnished. it's not really tarnishment that is giving her the moment, its all this other stuff you describe, so re-write again). She saw horse-drawn ploughs, people gardening and picking apples, and mothers doing laundry. It was a pure life, a wholesome life, especially contrasted with her life with Ben. Not that Ben was the problem, but rather their city apartment and the constant struggle with traffic, bills, and the hurry of modern life.

She and Ben managed to track down her contact, a man named Isaac Troyer. Many of the Amish in the area had the surname of Troyer, so it took time, but soon Isaac was leading them around the little village. (i like that name)

“The tourists don’t really affect us out here, in honesty. It mostly affects us down during the farmer’s market, where we take our crops. So many people look at us like we are not even men, but beasts in a zoo.” ("in honesty" is a hate phrase. as in i hate it, and plus your putting into the mouth of a Amish dude that would probably be very aware of the fact that such a stupid phrase makes him sound like he's lying other times, so this ultra pious dude does that... i doubt it... and i don't even buy this whole line..."beasts in a zoo?" common.... if he's going to be this disgrunteled, then at least maybe set us up for that a bit, somehow)

“But doesn’t the city have ordnances that prohibit the harassment of your people?” ("you're people"? again no) Katie’s pen scrawled her shorthand, taking careful notes as they walked.

Ben was also taken with the Mennonite village, but for different reasons. Nearly every piece of furniture, every tool, even the houses, everything was an antique! These objects had been passed down for generations, and Ben was able to hear all the histories he could ask for. Everyone was happy to oblige him, always with an offer of pie or other food.

Katie had what she needed for her story.

“Thank you, Isaac, I appreciate your openness. Would you mind if I took your picture for my story?”

Isaac recoiled. “No! No, I’m sorry, but I cannot allow you to take my picture. It is against our teachings.” (according to internet this isn't true... but it is the internet. anyway, be drat sure this is right, cause otherwise your whole story hinges on bullshit. if its not true, then its easily fixed by saying "No! No, I'm sorry, but I cannot allow you to take my picture. Though it isn't forsaken, I personally don't approve" and yes, forsaken is a lovely word, so do better than me)

Katie nodded, and put her camera away. “Of course, of course, I should have remembered that. I’m terribly sorry, I hope I didn’t offend you!”

Isaac shook his head. “It is not a problem. It was a pleasure to meet you.”

***

In the car, Ben asked Katie if she had her story.

“Well, did you get everything you wanted?”

“Sort of. I want a picture! Do you think we could go snap a few without them noticing?”

Ben grinned. “We could try!”

***

Katie and Ben crept forward. The sun was setting, and Katie didn’t have much time before she lost the light.

“Let’s just get a couple. Look, there’s a guy chopping wood. Come on!”

There was just enough light to catch a series of photos without the flash.

“OK, I think I got them! Let’s get out of here!”

***

Ben pulled the car out onto the main road when Katie gasped. Ben looked over, concerned.

“What?”

“Jesus, Ben, stop the car!”

Ben pulled to the side of the road. Katie handed the camera to him, disgusted.

“Look at his face! What in the hell is going on?”

The picture was of the woodcutter. Everything was in focus, but instead of the bearded face Ben was expecting, there was the face of a leering demon. It’s fanged jaw seemed to be mocking them. Scanning through the pictures, Ben saw that every photo had that same face.

“This is weird, Katie. What’s wrong with your camera?”

“There isn’t anything wrong with my camera, idiot! What could possibly go wrong with my camera that would cause this?”

“Well, what do you want to do?”

“I want to take more pictures, dammit!”

Katie snapped a few images of Ben, but upon looking at them, they were normal.

“Let’s go back.”

***

Night had fallen, which made sneaking around the village easier, but it also made getting pictures more difficult. Katie gestured to a house where people could be seen sitting to dinner.

“There. I want to see what in the hell is going on.”

“Wait, wait!” Ben hissed after Katie as she ran up to the window.

Katie took a few more pictures, frantically gesturing to Ben. She handed him the camera, which showed a picture of a family of demons gathered around the dinner table. Every photo that included one of the Mennonites had the face replaced with a horrible monster.

“Good god, Katie, what does this mean?”

“I don’t know, Ben, but we need to get out of here. We need to tell somebody!”

They ran back to the car. When they reached the spot where they parked, however, they saw that their truck had been pushed onto its side.

“gently caress! We’re hosed Ben, we’re so hosed. Let’s just run!”

Ben was about to reply, when he caught movement on his peripheral vision. It was an Amish women, sliding across the ground with preternatural speed.

“Katie, RUN!”

***

Katie fled through the woods. Ben had thrown himself at the women, screaming for Katie to run, run as fast as she could. She heard Ben continue to scream, although he wasn’t forming words anymore. It was just screams of agony, and they brought tears to her eyes. She continued to run until she was out of breath, tripping and falling to the ground. Realizing no one was following her, she turned back to face the village. A bonfire had arisen in the town center, and the faint echoes of screams could be heard on the wind.

She couldn’t leave Ben. Moving back towards the village, she finally caught sight of the bonfire. Ben was crucified on an inverted cross, with the Amish dancing around the flames. Ben was screaming and wailing as the Mennonites used knives to cut off pieces of his flesh. They were eating the pieces raw. Men, women, children, all capered forward to lick the blood and tear Ben’s skin.

Katie sobbed, muffling her cries with her sleeve. She crouched behind a woodpile, watching in horror as the demons pulled out Ben’s eyes and tongue. His guttural moans drew out another burst of tears. Then she found the axe. She looked at the blade gleaming in the firelight, and then back at the crowd around Ben.

“I’m going to loving kill you all.”

With a scream, she leapt from her hiding spot raising the axe high. She plunged into the crowd, swinging with all her might.

--------------
Well, the story is solid in it's way, despite my neg comments. Since my earlier suggestion about the pic thing won't work, how about "According to my research, Minnonites do allow it." and he says "There are many untruths about us out there" or whatever. Also, the whole thing about her husband being into antiquing ultimately amounts to nothing, so we just get an annoying relationship ditty for no reason with no payoff(used as counter weight in her trying to save him despite being annoying... maybe, but I doubt it. if you tell me about antiquing, then use it. unless you just hate antiquing, in that case good job). I really like the photo demon aspect though, and the story moves along. The sentences could be tighter, and some of the dialogue is silly or off, but ok.

“That wasn't any act of God. That was an act of pure human fuckery.”
― Stephen King, The Stand

Because you screwed up the thing that the whole story depends on, or even if you didn't you should fix it anyway, and because I had to read about an antiquing relationship, and because the ending is more or less a simplistic battle/chase scene:

You meet a clown at midnight.
DEATH

twinkle cave fucked around with this message at Jan 21, 2013 around 00:14

Canadian Surf Club
Feb 15, 2008

Word.


Ashamed I missed this one because I had a decent idea I thought I could build on. Ended up being away all weekend so didn't get any time to work on it. Going to read all these entries though because I'm interested to see where people took it.

twinkle cave
Dec 20, 2012


THUNDER DOME WEEK XXIV - TWINKLE CRIT

A Threshing - STONE OF MADNESS
~1749 words (processor counts em dash)


Frauds. They were a bunch of loving frauds.
The worst part, though, was still that smug, not-quite smirk on her father's face, when the intervention finished and she got into the car.
Of her own volition, mind you. You'd think that'd count for something.
“Sarah.”
Galton stood against the doorjamb, a file of papers – her file – clenched in his hand.
“Sarah, I've been meaning to speak with you.” He waited, his face unreadable as he studied hers.
She knew better than to react; no need to give them an excuse. “I'm listening.”
Galton moved into the room, and at once she felt uncomfortable, as if all the air had been displaced. He sat on the desk, his spread fingers dominating its surface, and leant back against the wall with a practised ease. (ALRIGHT PEOPLE - LISTEN UP - THIS FIRST PART IS WHAT GOOD WRITING LOOKS LIKE - You caught my attention right away and the language is strong. "Dominating its surface" indeed)
“Sarah,” he said again, “I'm a little disappointed.” He was staring into the ceiling, his bald head propped against the bricks, as if to say this situation is beneath me, but you, I don't know. She read him, clear as day; the only thing she couldn't figure out was if he knew it.
“We expected better. When you first came in, we thought, I thought, here's a girl who's got her head on right. Here's someone who knows what life's about, she just got sidetracked on the way. Here's someone we can fix.” (low blow bald dude, low.... good rear end in a top hat)
For fourteen thousand a semester. The cheek of the guy was unbelievable, and the speech was so stock, so obviously rehearsed, it made her hate him even more.
“Now I've been talking to Dr. Amarro,” he continued, an unfamiliar curtness to his voice, “and he says some things that concern me...”
She heard him out; she always did. There was nothing else to do, and once he was gone there'd be even less.

“I got something for you.”
She didn't turn around, but kept half-assedly digging the potatoes.
“C'mon, Sarah. I made it. For you. You'll like it.”
“Go away.”
“C'mon, Sarah, I want you to have it. I made it for you, it's for you. It's yours. C'mon, Sarah –”
He touched her, lightly, on the shoulder; Sarah whipped around, an elbow raised towards his face, the hoe held high above her.
“gently caress off, Oren. I am not interested.”
He backed away, out of reach but still cloyingly close. “But – I made it – to keep you safe –”
She glanced at the small object in his hand. It looked like he'd used his own hair.
“Leave me alone, you four-eyed little tard.”
Behind the streaky lenses, his eyes widened; she'd hurt him. “Well, fine then! Be a bitch! Be a bitch, see if I care!”
He'd care, she knew; he'd always care, far too much, and it didn't matter what she told the staff, they'd never do anything about it. Unless –
The very thought was beneath contempt, but she did it anyway. (I'm not a fan of this cliffing.. but fair play... it does it right)

“How many was he offering?”
“I don't know.”
“And you don't know what they were.”
“He didn't say. Benzos, though, for sure, little creep wants me nice and relaxed.”
“Sure.” Galton frowned, leaning back into his chair, gazing fixedly at his paperwork.
“I'm serious. He's a loving rapist. I've told you about this before, I need you guys to do something. Get him away from me. You should be protecting your customers –” (ahh,,, good... customers... this is a great point)
The irony of the word was unintended, and she stopped, still fuming; already, that sense of defeat came trickling in.
“He's not a rapist. That's completely unfounded.” Galton looked at her across the desk, his dark eyes glinting in the half-light of his office. “But, as for the pills, well I appreciate your telling me. We'll deal with it.” He rose, and stood by the door. “Thanks, again.”
That was it, then; she considered protesting, but a look in his eye suggested otherwise. He clasped her arm, as she passed into the hallway.
“Rest assured,” he said, and she could smell the stale coffee on his breath, “I'll take this into consideration on your next appraisal.”
Yet again, she felt the urge to hit him; instead, she simply left. There was no point in making a scene, and there was no-one there to see it if she had.

She still had a cigarette, flattened up inside the lining of her jacket – one solitary smoke, and she'd been saving it for weeks.(cool imagery/idea) Tonight, though, was the night.
The loving cheek of the guy.
She'd climbed out of her window and was sitting on the roof – they still didn't know about the deadbolt she'd unscrewed. From here she could see right across the complex, all the way over the barrens to the two faint streetlights that demarcated Main Street.
loving Main Street. The only street. They could've just called it Street. (HAHAHAHA YES)
She'd been there, once, to go help with the shopping – a 'trust exercise', they'd called it – and of course she hadn't run away, she hadn't gone trying to whore for crack or whatever it was the rest of these scrotty bitches liked. She simply helped them shop, and went back to the centre like a good girl. Like she'd being doing all along, because there was no contest; no drug was worth your freedom. She knew this. She'd told them as much, mom and dad, and they'd packed her off anyway. Sectioned her, it felt like. And as for the staff –
gently caress the staff. They knew, too, the hypocrites; they knew she was ready, they'd known it for months. They just kept her here to keep the bills paid, at the mercy of these creeps, these loving lechers.
The thought flashed, unbidden, to her mind.
Well, no longer. (this last 3 words reminds me of the cliffhanger style... which again, i don't like, but again ok fine)

There was a large tree down by the building's north face; its limbs were too big, too expensive to cut down, and they'd grown out thick and strong, from the roof to the wall. In seconds, she'd already done it; pad across the corrugated steel, clamber into the branches, and swing herself down, over the wall, and onto the grass below.
My wallet. gently caress.
Never mind; she'd hitch out of this craphole, and catch up with Jamie – no Xanax, though, this time. In the meantime, she could use a place to sleep. A bridge, a bus shelter, a barn. There probably was a barn, around here. Fields in three directions, and a farm road, she remembered, to the west. She headed west.

It was dark er than she'd realised, out here beyond the lights – or maybe it was the lights, now distant, that made it so dark, casting shadows over everything. Still, the rows of crop stood out against the soil, and Sarah learned to walk between them, where the dirt was most compact. The stars were out, some of them at least, peering through a screen of smouldering cloud. She'd never gotten used to seeing the stars, or to the silence, for that matter, in which her footfalls crunched with an unnerving clarity. The stillness of the place; the total emptiness, the miles and miles of void, no people, no –
Sarah.
A voice, piercing, cold. So, it was still happening, after all these months withdrawing –
Sarah.
– she couldn't boost her heartrate without that adrenal surge kicking in, and then –
Sarah.
– the anxiety, creeping slow, and that inevitably led to –
Sarah.
– dissociative thoughts. She was running, now, dead straight between the rows of stubble, scanning back and forth for any indication of the road. There had to be a road. No, I have to be calm. There would be a road, or a barn, or something. She just had to get out of the cold, somewhere she could curl up, away from these loving mosquitoes –
C'mon, Sarah.
“It's in my head,” she said out loud, mist curling away before her face. “It's just in my head.”
But – was it? Because she could have been spotted, she could have been followed, it could be Dr. Galton out there somewhere – but why would I think that? If anyone, it would be Oren. Oren, limping after her on his weird, broken stumps.
For you, Sarah.
She wheeled around, nearly losing her footing on the clotted earth, her arms held out for balance, peering blindly into the night.
“If that's you, Oren, you deformed little rear end in a top hat –”
But the voice, when it came again, came from behind her.
Got something for you.
She ran, hurdling the furrows that rose up to trip her, feeling the chill air whip through the sweat-soaked crevices of her clothing. It's not too late, she realised, I could just head back, hit the intercom, gently caress the consequences. But she'd come too far; the lights had disappeared behind some plane of earth, there was no way to find her way back. So, nothing for it then; she kept on running, downhill, away from that voice that wasn't quite just in her mind. (drat good last 3 or 4 paragraphs)
It had stopped. She hadn't noticed when; but now there was only the silence between her heavy footfalls, her heartbeat raging through her ears, the ragged breaths booming like a cataract inside her. That's it, just work through it. Just let your body burn it off, feel your energy come back to normal. That's it. That's it. (can the "had"s be taken out here?)

There was something up ahead; she saw it only faintly, a darker black against the blackened night, a large, square-sided thing, and now it loomed up above her, its edges jutting up against the stars, a building, a barn.
“Thank God,” she whispered, panting hard, squinting into the darkness, fumbling for an opening. There – a metal knob – she twisted it, and a door opened before her, and she was inside. It was warmer, in here, substantially so.
“Oh, thank God...”
There'd be a lightswitch, somewhere, hopefully – she groped around the wall behind her, gingerly, cringing as her fingers gathered stiff, tacky cobwebs. She found it, flicked it on.
For you, Sarah.
A moan burst from her lips, before she could stifle it – her knees trembled, and she sank against the wall.
There was something in the centre of the barn – she couldn't tell what it was – it wasn't right, though, it –
Made it for you, Sarah.
To keep you safe, he'd said, but that didn't make sense, she didn't feel safe at all, and it was moving, it was unfurling towards her, knots and clumps and tangles, it was – looking at her –
C'mon, Sarah...

------------------
drat Good Writing. THAT IS ALL. But wait, no, it is possible this needs more story. I can't exactly see this in a magazine because of that... but as an opening to a novel, or longer story, yes, the writing is so good I don't really care.

When a combatant shows up with work like this, it gives me the strength to suffer the rest of you low-lifes.

“Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.”
― Stephen King,

Through powers of description and a story that pulled us along at high speed, winding the other contestants, Stones was able to unfurl his wrath.
LIFE

twinkle cave fucked around with this message at Jan 20, 2013 around 20:44

twinkle cave
Dec 20, 2012


Canadian Surf Club posted:

Ashamed I missed this one because I had a decent idea I thought I could build on. Ended up being away all weekend so didn't get any time to work on it. Going to read all these entries though because I'm interested to see where people took it.

Since you think my crits are worthless, why don't you see if your mom will let you crit some instead of just "reading". (your crit of mine was pretty good, but until you've felt the pain of THUNDERCRITING a big lot then you have no legs to stand on)

EDIT: Pussy.

budgieinspector
Mar 24, 2006

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



Yo, twinkle cave -- please to be checking your email.

twinkle cave
Dec 20, 2012


budgieinspector posted:

Yo, twinkle cave -- please to be checking your email.

DOMERS - Just to be clear, I'm not the only judge. Someone who I put to death can win, as the other two judges may correct my idiotic rants, finding the diamond that I thought was rough. But for the sake of ease, you're going to see how I voted as I do crits, if I do crit yours.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

twinkle cave posted:

DOMERS - Just to be clear, I'm not the only judge. Someone who I put to death can win, as the other two judges may correct my idiotic rants, finding the diamond that I thought was rough. But for the sake of ease, you're going to see how I voted as I do crits, if I do crit yours.

You're the only judge in my heart.

I haven't had the pleasure of a twinkle cave crit but keep doing your thing

twinkle cave
Dec 20, 2012


THUNDER DOME WEEK XXIV - TWINKLE CRIT

Everything Under Rocks (1743 words) - monkeyboydc


“We keep the generator 'bout a hundred yards out in the woods. You keep it too close to the cabin and it's noisy as poo poo – smells bad. If you put it too far it's a pain in the rear end carryin' gas out to it –” for the first time since he'd started talking, Dan looks down to lick the edge of the bible-like paper and seal the spliff he's been rolling. Only a few brown, tobacco strands twirl to the forest floor; he makes sure every bit of weed stays in. “– that and I don't like turning it off if it's too far out.” (this generator issue rings true. been there.)

“No? Why?” Clark looks down the aisle of trees to where the generator sits in the midst of the Alaskan wilderness, a metallic wart in the greenery.(good sentence)

Dan lights the spliff, rolling it, burning evenly. He takes a long hit, holds it in, and breathes out a cloud made bigger by how cold it is outside. “It gets real dark out there.” He hands the spliff to Clark.

“Since when are you afraid of the dark?” Clark takes a hit and passes it back. He could recall plenty of times he and Dan wandered at night looking for a place to smoke and drink, chucking their empties into bushes as they went – there's plenty of bushes in Washington. If anything, Dan always been the most level headed.

“It's not dark like it is back in Washington, man. The second you shut that thing off, it's darker than you've ever seen it get. You know there ain't other houses around here. The closest city is Anchorage – four, five hundred miles away.” He breathes deeply through the paper cylinder, bringing it to half-mast in a red flare. “I always tell myself I won't, but as soon as I kill that thing, I fuckin' snap, run as fast I can back to the cabin.” He holds the spliff out, offering.

Clark shakes his head. “No thanks.” He gets real high all of a sudden and can hear the blood in his skull. They were farther away from a major city than Clark had ever been and, suddenly, the idea seemed more bothersome than it had before they sparked this thing. He knew it was just paranoia, more and more he caught himself getting this way, worrying when he smokes. The isolation, the intense dark, it reminds him of when he was little, getting ready for bed.

Night terrors were a big problem for Clark when he was little. He'd lay awake for hours. There were times he'd dream his brother's Halloween werewolf costume clawed its way out of the hatch to the attic in the corner of his room. He was sure he was awake, would begin screaming, and then find his parents shaking him, only dimly aware that he was still yelling as they shook him. Clark was ten before he was able to sleep an entire night in his room alone. “Hey, wanna go check out that old cannery you were telling me about?”



Clark and Dan wander through the cannery, very much like an old, rusted out can itself now that its ceiling has collapsed and most of the machinery has either rotted away or removed long ago. It was odd to think that people had worked here and, judging by the size of the empty room, there must have been a lot more of them at one time. The village was too far away from the main artery of civilization to survive. “What did they can here?” Clark asks. (So I like this. This is an instance where the setup works, sorta pre-story setup i mean. Many have tried and died on their own swords doing so, but yeah, monkeyboydc pulls it off)

“gently caress if I know man.” Dan produces a joint from the pack of cigarettes he keeps inside his leather jacket and lights it. “Fish probably.”

There are cracks in the foundation where trees have started sprouting up through the concrete floor. “You ever seen anything weird out here?” Clark couldn't help but ask, he was a collector of sorts.

Sometimes, he'd find himself talking to people long after a party died down, in the small hours of the morning after most people were passed out drunk and before the world began to turn gray, before the first bird chirps, and then another, and then they all burst awake in song. People tell their stories then. Some lived in Seattle their whole lives and never experienced anything supernatural – as a rule, ghosts don't seem to bother with large cities, they prefer the crevices, like potato bugs you find when you turn over a big rock. The strangest stuff was usually in an old house, out in the middle of nowhere. You could always tell which stories were real. (Cool. That bird thing is very good and I enjoyed following his reasoning.)

Dan takes a pull off the joint. “I've seen people do some weird poo poo out here.”



Clark dozes, half asleep. A droning in the distance keeps him awake. He thinks it's the obnoxious garbage truck that offloads poo poo from his apartment complex every Tuesday morning, but then remembers he's not home.

He opens his eyes and peers around the cabin, hazy with cigarette smoke. Dan is passed out in the chair opposite and Dan's dad is snoring loudly on one of the cots. He doesn't know how long it's been since they fell asleep. Clark realizes what the distant buzzing is. “gently caress, the generator's still on,” he says, kicking Dan's chair – Dan doesn't move. He is out. “Dan, we gotta shut the generator off.” Nothing. I guess I'll do it.

Supplies are limited. To get to their fishing village, you have to take a plane from Seattle to Anchorage, from Anchorage to a small airport two hundred miles north, finally a float plane further north that lands directly on the lake where they fish. Clark arrived a few weeks after Dan and his family. The only thing they burn through quicker than drugs is gas, and if Clark doesn't shut the generator off they might be in for some cold, dark nights before the next time they can refuel. (again good, you describe some mundane details and didn't lose me at all. i was interested in where they are, and the setup of the further generator problem is good too. this is a good example of using only what you need in a short story. he is getting multiple uses out of this generator, making it count)

Clark meets the crunch of freeze-dry earth in the zero degree evening. Each day the sun barely peeks over the horizon, rolls across the distant mountaintops for six, maybe seven hours, only to topple back over the opposite side again, leaving them in the most complete darkness he's ever experienced. He looks around, picks a tree, and begins to piss, marveling at how much steam is produced when it's so cold outside. Before he finishes, he looks over his shoulder once, twice. (yep, also good... i'm just going to stop saying that, but this story is rolling along nicely.)

A sweater and a whiskey drunk was a good choice of clothing, but he didn't plan on being out too long and he didn't think he'd be able to make the trip again if he turns around now. He walks down the row of trees, almost perfectly spaced six feet apart, each with a halogen lamp attached to light the way.

In the distance, the generator seems very small, like an angry, metal bumblebee screaming into the emptiness. Clark's surprised by how loud it hums as he gets closer. He crouches beside it and searches for the kill switch. He remembers what Dan told him about running back to the cabin after turning it off and decides he'll walk – he's not scared of the dark anymore. Finally, he finds the switch, looks up to fix the path he'll take, looks down, and turns off the generator. It grumbles and grinds to a stop. The lights lining the pathway shrink to small, orange points, the tips of cigarettes. Clark stands and, as the lights go out completely, sees someone standing against the wall of the cabin. “Dan!?” No answer. Clark turns and runs into the forest; he fuckin' snaps.



The canopy blocks out the stars, the only light source. His fingers, blindly reaching in front of him as he walks, have almost no feeling left in them. He tries to circle back to where he thinks the cabin sits. Just when his inner compass tells him he's heading in the right direction, he hears something in the woods, snapping twigs and shuffling feet, not attempting to hide its presence. It's driving him someplace old, and lonely, where it's been waiting for someone to come back.



Clark gave up screaming a long time ago(I don't like this screaming... its not needed, and it sounds wrong. the picture is very good without it), figuring he'd gone too far from the village for anyone to hear him. Every time he yells, whatever is the woods with him closes their gap, as if to tell him he needs to stop. Whatever it is, it's fast when it wants to be – he thinks of the bugs under the rock again and how fast they scramble when exposed. (cool... i know I said i wouldn't, but had to say it)



He figures his eyes will adjust, but for that, you need light. He can't hear the river anymore and wonders when he'll freeze. His feet stop aching, stop feeling, they've gotten so cold. Then, right when Clark is sure he will die, he hits something that doesn't feel like a tree. He runs his hands in front of him feeling something smooth. A wall! He moves along it and finds what he thinks is a door frame, then, a door knob. Oh thank god. He opens the door and steps inside.

A soft glow lights the corner of the room, a night light. There's his bed and his posters on the walls. “This is my room.” He can't believe it. The Mickey Mouse blankets, the toys, it's his room from when he was little. This is almost worse than the dark, it's impossible. Clark turns around to leave, but finds there's no door, just his closet, full of ill-fitting clothes. There's a scraping sound behind him.

In the opposite corner of his room, the attic hatch moves aside, dropping bits of popcorned ceiling. The black square leading up looks just like outside. There's a faint scuffling and a dark mass drops from the attic onto the carpet, between him and what should have been the door into the hallway. The pile of clothing jerks, like it's full of rats. It twitches, the snarling face of his brother's wolf costume leers at him with cigarette eyes. He blinks, it's halfway to him, settling on the floor like the air escaping from under a sheet. He tries not to blink as he watches the costume pulse. It's had a long time to wait, and it's fine waiting a little longer.

--------
This is good work, you've shown how something as simple as this can maintain a readers interest. Snow, getting lost, hanging around smoking pot. It is rather eloquent. This reminds me a bit of STONES OF MADNESS story in that it ends in a weird place with no where to go, but alas, such is flash at times and that is fine and a norm of flash, again leaving the possibility of a longer work(this and STONES' actually contrast really well as different ways to get to a similar place, and are why criting can be tricky.... STONES drug us by our hair to the killing post and MONKEY walked us out slow and calm with shotgun in hand (i know his guy ran through the woods, but the language was so... pretty... pretty ones yes)). I'm not completely convinced by this ending though, either. It has that tacked on feeling unfortunately, even though its pretty good too. Like, really anything could be here at this point, which may be a draw in some ways, like i'm thinking "oh drat, whats going to happen" but at the same time, I would have liked this better as a walls slowly closing in thing... though I'm not sure how it would be done.

King-O says,
“Perfect paranoia is perfect awareness.”
― Stephen King

Based on the soft touch you show, the little hairs on the back of my neck, and the legit creepiness of that wolf costume....
LIFE

Canadian Surf Club
Feb 15, 2008

Word.


twinkle cave posted:

Since you think my crits are worthless, why don't you see if your mom will let you crit some instead of just "reading". (your crit of mine was pretty good, but until you've felt the pain of THUNDERCRITING a big lot then you have no legs to stand on)

EDIT: Pussy.

I'll take that for now and see you in the next go around. If your past Thunderbrawl efforts are any indication then I have little to fear.

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HiddenGecko
Apr 15, 2007

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


Canadian Surf Club posted:

I'll take that for now and see you in the next go around. If your past Thunderbrawl efforts are any indication then I have little to fear.

Hear that Twinkle Cave? He's calling you a sissy! You gonna stand for that?

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