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Schneider Heim
Oct 17, 2012


To Graduation
969 words

Sue hunched in front of her laptop, holding her controller close. The rover rolled along the planet's rocky surface, searching for valuable minerals. The game jerked and stuttered as the rover kicked up dust clouds. Sue smiled, paused the game, and typed a note on David's laptop.

Bug #13: Dust clouds in methane-rich planets cause a 50% FPS drop. This wouldn't have happened if you paid attention to Graphics Programming class.

She decided to take a break, sliding to the other end of the bench. She argued against their lead programmer that their game wouldn't be good enough if anything less than a gaming-grade computer couldn't run it with moderate graphics settings. Incidentally, her laptop, pushing two years, was a good benchmark. Marcus grumbled and got to it anyway, sacrificing basketball and a date with his new girlfriend.

She had made a bet with Marcus that she could find thirty bugs: the price was the top item on their Steam wishlists. His: some asinine gray-and-gloom shooter indistinguishable from its ilk. Her: an adventure game filled with elegant art and dreamlike sequences. Losing was out of the question.

It was two months before the final thesis deadline. They all agreed to finish by one. Not because they were the top contender for the Most Outstanding Thesis Award (a dubious distinction that she welcomed anyway), but because her three groupmates would be using the time for job hunting.

Not her, though.

Sue cycled through the open tabs in her browser. She wondered how some of them got in: an RSS feed aggregator of interesting news, animated cat GIFs, an acquaintance's angsty blog (for all the person's bloated sense of suffering, she couldn't look away), a random page in Wikipedia, Spanish homework, and her email inbox. She closed everything but the last one.

The folder named "Job offers" reached three pages, all of them unread. They were all companies she knew. Some were companies she actually admired, some she used to. Some she was shocked to hear from. The sheer number of options were daunting.

"What kind of games will they let me make?" She asked the question at the ceiling. Why would she choose one over the other? Most importantly, who would hire her for her ideas?

Someone called Sue's name. She tried to ignore them. She was thinking.

"Hey Sue." Karen sat on the other side of the bench. "You look spaced out today."

Sue turned her head. "Oh, it's just you, Karen."

"Whaaaat? I was calling your name, you know. Where's David?"

"He's out. I borrowed his laptop to do some work."

"They aren't pulling their weight? For shame!"

"No! I gave them time off. I'm doing this alone." Sue explained her deal with Marcus.

Karen made a bemused smile. "Okay, at least he put his thesis first. He's learning, at least."

"You're being bitter."

"Hey, I'm glad he found someone who could tolerate that side of him. Why not work in your dorm, though?"

"Air conditioning broke. It's fine. David's laptop isn't as heavy as mine." Sue massaged her arms. They still ached.

"Ouch. Anyway, I came here to pass my Master's requirements."

"You're taking Master's?"

Karen pursed her lips. "Is it really strange that I want to teach here?"

"Not really," Sue said. "But I have trouble imagining it. Maybe ditch the contacts?"

"Not a bad idea, actually."

They laughed together.

"So, are you okay?" Karen asked. "Call it women's intuition, but you look off."

Sue exhaled. "Yeah. We're graduating soon, right?"

"Yeah! What companies are you looking at?"

"I was just getting to that. I don't know, Karen." Sue pointed to her inbox.

Karen squinted. "Wow. That conference you guys went to really hauled them in, huh."

"That's the problem. There's so many of them! The rest of my groupmates are up tackling their own offers, but I haven't even started yet. I told myself I should worry about that after we finish our thesis, but now that we're so close..." Sue trailed off, rolling the mouse wheel up and down.

"Maybe I should keep working on the game. Even if I don't know how it'll work."

Karen gave her a sympathetic look. "That's really tough. Much as I believe in following your dreams, there's still bills to pay, right? On the other hand..."

Sue winced. "If I get stuck in a company making games with an online requirement for playing alone and dozens of useless DLC, that's the end of me. I envy you guys. At least you have an idea of what you'd like to do."

"Don't do that. All I'm thinking of is getting in. I'm not even worrying about PhD at this stage," Karen said. She leaned forward. "Between you and me, I might fail World Literature this term. So I think we're pretty even."

"You're terrible!"

"Seriously. And your groupmates don't have a job yet, right? They're looking for one, so it's not like they have a huge lead on you. You still have two months to think about it. And knowing some of them, you could totally catch up if you plan your schedule right," Karen said, winking. "Don't let an email folder get you down."

Sue rubbed her temples. "Thanks. I think I have an idea how to make this manageable."

Karen made a thumbs-up sign. "Hoped I helped, because I need to be going now. Tell everyone I said hi!"

"You're the best, Professor Karen."

"Don't jinx it!"

They waved goodbye. With a happy sigh, Sue made two subfolders: "APPLY!!!!111" and "Apply". She went through every email, moving them accordingly and deleting the rest. It didn't take her long.

Sue stood up and stretched. "Back to work!" She plopped in front of her laptop, unpausing the game. Maybe she could shoot for sixty bugs, and double her payoff?

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docbeard
Jul 18, 2011

High marks for compassion, low marks for survival skills





Call Me
971 Words


“We have your wife and son,” said a muffled, distorted voice that couldn’t entirely be blamed on the cheap cellphone. Rick closed his eyes, cupped one hand over his ear to shut out the noise of the bar. This could not be happening. Not now. “Do exactly as we say, or-”

“Yeah, I’m gonna stop you right there,” said Rick sharply, drawing a look from Laine, the woman on the barstool next to him. He shook his head. “This is you, isn’t it? Again?”

“What? I...poo poo.”

“That’s what I thought. Man, I don’t know how you keep getting my number, but-”

“Hey, gently caress you!” Click.

Typical. Rick turned back toward Laine. “Excuse me a moment,” he said, and before she could say anything, he stood up and walked to intercept a passing waiter with a pitcher of beer. “Whatever table that’s for, tell them that the replacement for that pitcher, and the next one, is on me.”

“That’s very generous of you, sir, but why would they need a-” Rick could see that the waiter regretted asking the question the instant the words left his mouth.

“Trust me, they’ll need one,” Rick said, as he dropped his cellphone into the pitcher with one hand, holding out a few bills in his other. “Here, this should cover the pitchers, and the rest is for you. Really sorry about that,” This last was called out over his shoulder as he headed back to Laine. “So. You were just about to remember an urgent appointment or something, right?”

Laine stared at him for several seconds. She was trembling, slightly, and Rick couldn’t tell if it was anger or suppressed laughter. He was pretty sure she wasn’t afraid of him. “You know,” she said finally, “You could have just taken out the SIM card.”

Rick reclaimed his barstool. “People keep telling me that,”

“There’s got to be a story there. And you’re going to buy me a drink and tell me that story before they kick us out of here, okay?” Laine smiled, brushed a strand of red hair behind one shoulder. “Got to have something to tell the girls at work about the crazy guy I met at the bar, right?’

“Sounds fair, only could you do me a favor and call me eccentric? Makes me sound rich and handsome.” Rick was starting to relax again, if only a little.

“It makes you sound like an old guy who collects cuckoo clocks,” Laine said, laughing. “So. Debt collector?”

“Huh? Oh, phone guy? No, kidnapper.” Laine stopped laughing and Rick held his hands up. “Seriously. I get a call from him every few months, telling me he has my wife and son.” Laine just looked at him, “I’m not married. No kids either. It really freaked me out the first time it happened. I was terrified that I was the only thing standing between some poor kidnap victims and...hell, I don’t know.”

“Did the cops say anything? You did call the cops, right?” At least she wasn’t saying that it was complete bullshit, though Rick was pretty sure that’s what was on her mind.

“Of course I called the cops. I mean, I wasn’t sure I should at first but...yeah, I called them. There was a huge investigation the first time. Nothing like on TV, no big command centers with twenty people waiting to trace a call or anything, but they looked into it. They took it seriously. And you know what they told me at the end of it all?” Rick leaned forward.

“What?”

“That there’d been no record of the call on my phone plan. That there weren’t any missing people reported at all at the time. That I was probably just the victim of a prank call made by someone who knew a few tricks.” Rick shook his head. “And then it happened again, a couple months later. I’d gotten a new phone number, unlisted and everything. I called the cops again, got the same response with an extra helping of ‘wasting police time is a felony’, you know. I quit reporting it after the fifth time or so.”

Laine wasn’t laughing, but neither was she calling him an idiot or a liar, which was better than usual. A hopeful sign. She shook her head. “You know that sounds completely ridiculous, right?”

“It is completely ridiculous,” Rick said. “And yet.” He shrugged. “This is my life. I don’t get it either, but I’ve gotten used to it. I guess you can get used to anything. So were you taking that drink to go, or what?”

“I...poo poo. I actually do need to go, I have an early meeting tomorrow.” She was here on a business trip, Rick recalled. It was a safe enough excuse. “Here, though.” She wrote something on a napkin. And then she smiled. “My number. I’ll still be in town a couple of days. If you want to talk to someone who isn’t a prank-calling kidnapper.” Maybe it wasn’t an excuse.

Rick had a suave, cool reply to this. “Seriously? I mean, great, that’s great, but...seriously?” That wasn’t it.

But she laughed and said, “Sure, why not? You’re still the most stable person I’ve gone out with in months. I’d offer to call you, but…”

“Right. I mean, all right, I’ll give you a call in a day or so.”

“Do,” and she was gone. Rick turned back to the bar, and smiled. He really didn’t understand his life at all, sometimes, but he really had very few complaints.

The waiter behind him cleared his throat. It was the man whose pitcher he’d ruined earlier, and there was a much larger man standing beside him. “Sir, the manager has suggested that you should-”

“Right, right, of course, I was just leaving.” Very few complaints.

Mercedes
Mar 7, 2006

"So you Jesus?"

"And you black?"

"Nigga prove it!"

And so Black Jesus turned water into a bucket of chicken. And He saw that it was good.


Sitting Here posted:

I haven't hated anything so far,

You just had to say it.

Naive
1000 words


“I can't believe you lost another job!” Veronica threw a dish into the sink.

Henry shied away from her anger. “Baby, this time it's not my fault. I swear it.” He brought his hands up in frustration. “I was laid off, as well as ten other people.”

“I bet you didn't even attempt to talk to HR.” Victoria's fingers drummed the sink counter. “Did you attempt to get relocated to another department or something?”

“Vic, there's nothing for me at that company. I do have a plan to get me back on my feet, though.” Henry said.

“We have talked about you and plans, Henry.” Veronica said. “You're most likely unwittingly doing something illegal and we're both going to end up in jail.”

“No one is going to jail, I promise...”

“What's this plan of yours?” Veronica said.

“Just...” Henry hesitated, “trust me on this one, please?”

“No.” She crossed her arms “Tell me. Now.”

Henry wavered under his wife's gaze. “I started a business with a friend of mine. Tucker.”

Victoria blinked. “Would you care to repeat that honey? I don't think I heard you right.”

“I invested the money in our savings account to start a convenience store.” Henry said. “I want to pull my own weight. I want a marriage of equals.”

Victoria chewed on her lower lip. Henry was earnest in his plea to be a better man for her and it gave her pause. “Okay Henry. Let me see the business plan for your store.”

Henry stopped, stunned by the question. “Business plan?” His mouth felt like a desert. “I... don't have one.”

“I'm going to slap the man out of you, Henry.”

“I can call him!” Henry struggled to pull his phone out of his pocket. “He has all the minute details. It's all planned out. I'll let you talk to him and he'll explain the process.” He triumphantly liberates his phone from his pants and calls Tucker, placing the cell on speakerphone.

I'm sorry, you have reached a number that has been disconnected or no longer in service. If you feel that you have reached this recording in error, please check the number and try again.

Henry's face turned white. He leaned against the table to keep himself up. He looked up at Veronica and witnessed her hold back her rage. Before he could open his mouth to explain, Veronica closed the distance and hit him across the face. Henry lost his footing and fell to the ground, hitting the back of his head against the wall.



--------------

As Henry woke, he groaned, willing the world to stop spinning. He found himself in a claustrophobic cave with Veronica seated at a large computer, pounding away at the keys.

“Henrietta,” Victoria turned her head towards the noise, “you're awake.” she said. She snapped her fingers at Henrietta and held her hand out. “Give me your phone.”

Henry's hands flew to his chest. “Oh God!” he said with a girlish squeal. Horrified, he squeezed his breasts. “Not again...”

“Quickly!” Veronica's fingers beckoned. “We don't have much time.”

Henrietta dug the phone out of her pocket and held it out. Victoria snatched it away and plugged it into the computer.

“Your fool of a friend thinks he can take my money and live to spend it?” She squinted her eyes and curled her lips into a snarl. “Not in his lifetime.”

The sudden computer ping startled Henrietta.

“Found you!” Victoria slammed the palm of her hand on the desk as she shot up to her feet. She marched past Henrietta and pulled her to her feet. Victoria then dragged her into a cramped pod and fastened her in.

“Victoria, I'm so sorry.” Henrietta avoided the angry eyes. “I just wanted to be a good husband - a provider. I don't want to be a burden anymore.”

Victoria's face softened and a small smile managed to pull on the corners of her lips. “Oh shush. You're not a burden to me. You're just too naive for this world, and I love you for it.” she said.

With a hiss, the door closed and clicked as it locked. Henrietta closed her eyes when she felt the rumble grow behind. The sudden inertia slammed her back against her seat and knocked the air from her lungs.

As they closed in on their destination, the pod started a rapid descent.

“I just want you to know, if I die, I always loved you.”

“Shut up Henrietta. Keep your head behind cover and you'll be fine.”

“Yes dear...”

When the pod exploded into the ground, Victoria and Henrietta emerged from the wreckage with assault rifles braced against their shoulders aimed at Tucker.

Tucker hurdled over a car and hunkered down as bullets peppered his cover. He pulled out two sub-machine guns from his jacket and kissed the barrels. He turned and vaulted over the vehicle, high in the air and sprayed bullets down at them.

“No!” Henrietta ran to Victoria to take a bullet for her.

Victoria palmed Henrietta's head and threw her behind to safety. She lunged to the side, holding down the trigger as she returned fire.

The clip emptied and Veronica reached for another one, but Tucker was already on her, knocking her to the ground. He held both guns to her head, but before he could pull the trigger, he felt the muzzle of another rifle against his temple.

“I trusted you, Tucker.” Henry said, testosterone back in his voice.

Tucker stood up and faced Henry with a smirk on his face. “Put that toy away before you hurt yourself. You're not going to shoot me.” he said, slowly turning back to Veronica. “Now go away, it's time for the adults to play.”

Tears stung his eyes. He'll prove to everyone he has what it takes to thrive in this world.

He pulled the trigger.

Fumblemouse
Mar 21, 2013


STANDARD
DEVIANT


Grimey Drawer

Wordcount 958

The Full Aspie

Charlotte sat on the edge of the bed, ignoring Chris’s wheedling voice beside her and steeling herself for moment of truth. No time like the present, she thought and shut him up by dragging his face to her mouth for a dispassionate snog. His tongue felt like a pythonic intruder, rolling around like it was trying to choke her. His hand reached up into her Rammstein t-shirt while his body attempted to angle his groin against her thigh. Disgusted by his touch, Charlotte pulled away, wiping saliva residue from her amateurly painted lips.

He swore, barely a 1.5 on the Richter Scale of Creative Abuse, so she tuned him out and simply left the bedroom. Outside the party swirled around her, faces and lights and poppy techno; she wished for her headphones and the comfortable catharsis of familiar Death Metal. She leaned against a wall, applied some hand-sanitiser and wished she could gargle with it. A nearby sofa had turned into some kind of cuddle puddle, and Charlotte moved away in case some well meaning freak tried to get her to join in.

She found Amanda curled up in an armchair, a dopey smile on her face. “Hey, Amanda,” said Charlotte, dropping to her knees beside one arm.

Amanda raised her head, languid as a lizard, and smiled in recognition. “Hey, child. How’s it? You find him?”

Charlotte looked off to the side, avoiding Amanda’s eyes. “Yes, I found him. We did the thing. It was everything I’d dreamed it would be. I closed my eyes, remembered to swallow occasionally and we connected. Like, on a spiritual level.”

“That bad, huh?”

“I just don’t get it, “ said Charlotte, scanning the party. “Is that the point, to find some scrawny douchebag with a bad haircut and get him to stick his tongue down your throat while he tries to rub his dick on you?”

Amanda laughed. “Yep - that’s it. And you’re supposed to be grateful for it because the only thing worse is being alone.”

“But how can you not like being alone? gently caress that. You neurotypicals suck.”

“Who you calling neurotypical, Kemosabe?” drawled Amanda. “I’m pharmaceutically neuro-enhanced!” She sat upright in her chair and put her hand on Charlotte’s arm, then removed it when Charlotte glared at her. “Sorry, my bad,” she apologised, “but Jeez, Charlotte, you didn’t go full Aspie on him, did you?”

Charlotte shook her head. “It was kind of funny, though. The only way I could tolerate it was to convince myself that getting his spit all over my tongue was some kind inoculation, vaccination kind of thing. His germs were making my immune system stronger. Otherwise it was just too gross. And then he started with the groping...”

Amanda laughed again. “You’re oversharing, child.”

“Am I? Christ, sorry.” Charlotte hunched over, looking at the floor, her hands softly rubbing her knees.

“Mmm, don’t worry, it’s interesting. It’s the Louis Pasteur version of Mills and Boon. Don’t let me stop you.”

Charlotte didn’t say anything else, though, until Amanda found another beer on the other side of the armchair and Charlotte had knocked most of it back.

“This whole place sucks,” said Charlotte, scraping at the bottle label with one thumbnail. “It’s too noisy. It’s freaking me out. And the worst thing was when he went for my boob.

“Mmm hmm,” said Amanda, but Charlotte was spitting out words too fast to hear her.

“I mean, what the gently caress is it with boobs? It’s not enough that they’re in everywhere in the movies and magazines and stuff - he wants to get at mine, too? And the other worst thing was him thinking I wouldn’t notice him trying to frottage my leg, like some puppy with zits. Why would you do that?”

Someone leaned on the back of the armchair. Amanda craned her neck to see who it was. “You hear that, Chris?” she said. “You’re like a spotty puppy.”

“I did hear that, Amanda, thank you for asking,” said Chris. “Charlotte, can I talk to you? Alone?”

“Nope,” said Charlotte, not looking at him, grinding her palms against her knees.

Amanda studied the shape of her beer bottle with a pained intensity. Chris looked helplessly about then kneeled beside Charlotte.

“Look,” said Chris in a low whisper. “I’m sorry about before. I should have known not to push it with you and I shouldn’t have sworn at you.” He reached towards Charlotte’s face with one hand. “It’s just that I like you so OW! ...You loving bit me!”

Charlotte spat blood. “Don’t you loving touch me,” she yelled. “Don’t you loving come near me you loving bitch stinkyhole.”

Her voice was rising in pitch and the words came out faster and faster.

“You tiny-dicked spastic fuckwad, you chickenshit cuntface. One kiss and you think you can grab my tit and hump my leg like a loving animal, you pathetic bag of poo poo?”

Charlotte’s voice grew so quick and high pitched it was almost part of the music. Chris stood up, tried to say something but got drowned out by the torrent of abuse.

“Get the gently caress away from me, you gently caress, you pathetic gently caress. I will loving tear you apart you loving touch me again, I will...”

Chris shrugged in exasperation and slunk off, his bleeding hand wedged beneath his arm, trying not to notice the entire room watching them. Charlotte remained seated, attempting to get her breathing under control.

Amanda got up from her chair and confronted the silent stares, electronic music blasting around her. “Ladies and Gentlemen,” she said with an unsteady bow and a flourish toward Charlotte. “I give you... the full Aspie!”

A couple of people clapped. The night went on with the business of being young.

Chairchucker
Nov 14, 2006

The man was stunningly well dressed. He had a smart looking jacket, and a really neat looking cape, the lining of which was shimmering and sparkling in more than Oriental splendour, which is a great deal of splendour indeed, just ask Kipling.

Gary Don’t Mind 951 words according to Word and there was totally more info I hoped to convey but didn't but oh well here you go here is a story.

“Man, that was a good match.”

“Would’ve been better if that bloody zebra hadn’t swallowed his whistle.” Gary picked up his empty lemonade can and crushed it flat. “Rigatoni was getting mauled out there.”

“Come now,” said Paul. “Let’s not be bitter. Best to just accept that the better side won.”

Gary flicked the squashed can at him, and Paul laughed as it bounced off of his arm. “Whatever. I’ve gotta see a man about a dog.” He let himself into the smallest room in the house and closed the door.

“Hey Gary,” said Paul. “I’ve just gotta nip down to the shops for a moment, you’re right to watch Lucy for me, right?”

“What? Absolutely not!”

“Come on man, I’ll only be a few minutes.”

“Then take her with you or something, I can’t babysit her for you!”

“Five minutes. Tops. Okay thanks, won’t be long.”

“Son of a… no, Paul. This is not Okay. Paul?” There were no further replies from Paul. Gary returned from the toilet and peered out the front window. Paul’s car was no longer parked out the front. “Bloody mongrel,” said Gary.

“What’s a mongrel?”

Gary turned around. “Oh hey sweetie,” he said. “Your dad’s asked me to mind you for just a few minutes. Aren’t you usually in bed by now?”

“Daddy usually reads me a bed time story,” said Lucy.

“Hmmm, I guess I could do that.”

“And tucks me in.”

“Right. How about I let you stay up until your daddy gets home?”

Lucy smiled. “Can I watch TV?”

“Well, I’m not sure daddy would like you watching the kind of shows that are on this late. Don’t you have some DVDs we could put on?”

Lucy nodded and ran to grab one. Gary glimpsed the cover and groaned inwardly. “Uh, can we watch a different one? How about The Wiggles, you like those guys, right?”

“OK,” said Lucy, and obligingly put the Skivvied Ones in the player instead. After a couple of songs, Lucy asked “Can we have ice cream, too?”

Gary looked at his watch. ‘Five minutes tops’ had somehow become ten. “Yes,” he said. “Yes, we can definitely have ice cream.” Lucy followed him into the kitchen and he put three large scoops each into two bowls.

After they’d finished the ice cream, Gary looked at his watch again. Fifteen minutes was definitely stretching the friendship. He pulled out his mobile and dialled Paul’s number. Paul’s ringtone sounded from the next room. Fantastic.

“Listen, sweetie,” he said “Why don’t you phone your mummy to come over? I shouldn’t really be babysitting you alone, definitely not for this long.”

“Mummy doesn’t usually come and pick me up until Monday,” she said.

“Well,” said Gary, “just tell her that your daddy has left me in charge while he’s gone out. She may decide this is a special case.”

Lucy went to the hall where the home phone was kept, and Gary paused the Wiggles mid-potato. He really needed a beer, but Paul didn’t like having alcohol out on weekends that he had Lucy.

-

“Another one, thanks.” Simon obligingly pushed a new glass over the counter, and Paul passed him the exact change.

“Surprised to see you here,” said Simon. “Don’t you usually have your daughter every other week?”

Paul dismissed the matter with a wave of hand. “It’s all good, I got Gary to mind her for a couple minutes.”

Simon raised an eyebrow. “You’ve already been here for a little longer than most definitions of a couple minutes. Hang on. Gary? Our Gary?” Paul nodded.

Warwick raised his head from his beer. “Sure that’s a good idea, mate?”

“What?” Paul took a sip from his beer. “He’s a great mate, I can trust him.”

Simon shook his head. “No way, Paul. I mean, I trust Warwick, but I still wouldn’t go out and ask him to mind the bar.”

“Come on man, I’m right here,” said Warwick.

“You’re both worrying too much,” said Paul. “He reckons therapy’s going really well.”

Simon shook his head again. “That’s messed up, mate. You’ve gotta go home. In fact” – and he handed Paul his exact change back – “give me that one back. I’m not gonna make you pay for the sip you took, but you’re done with that one, and you’re done here for the rest of the weekend.”

Paul grumbled, but he took his money back and handed back the glass. Both men stared at him disapprovingly as he walked out the door.

Once outside, Paul walked towards his car, but then spied the sign for the Lion’s Head. Not his favourite pub, but no one there knew his custody arrangements. He walked past his car.

-

It took twelve minutes after Lucy’s call for Harriet to arrive. Gary knew because he’d checked his watch at least once per minute. Harriet had taken Lucy upstairs right away and put her to bed, while Gary sat downstairs channel flipping and waiting for her to return. “I can’t believe that idiot would get you to look after her,” she said once she’d returned to the lounge room. “No offence, but… you know.”

“No, I’m with you,” said Gary. “I told him I couldn’t watch her, but he asked while I was on the can, and was gone by the time I got out.” Harriet shook her head. “Anyway,” said Gary, “I’m gonna head home.”

“Wait, you can’t just leave me to wait for him by myself,” said Harriet. “He’ll go ballistic. And there’s also the outside chance that I’ll murder him for being an idiot.”

“Fine,” said Gary. They sat down and switched the TV back on, and waited for Paul.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

Submissions closed.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

Resultspost

What can I say, thread. I am something resembling proud of you guys this week. Pretty much everyone made a visible effort at the prompt, and while some entries fell short, we had only one miscarriage of literature, which is pretty good given Thunderdome infant mortality rates.

Your loser is by far not the worst prose this week. M. Propagandalf, I wanted to like your story. The premise could've been neat, but it fell flat, and was a bit creepy, with no payoff or insight to make the creepy-factor worth it. Stay tuned for my detailed crits; you lost because the judges wanted to like your story, but for this prompt, you missed the mark.

Your winner intrigued the judges with their piece's depth and density, however we were slightly bemused by your ending. Regardless, you did the most with the least, and came the closest to nailing every aspect of my rough judging rubric. Didja Redo, come on down to the judging chair.

Honorable Mentions: Crabrock, Fumblemouse, Anathema Device

Dishonorable Mentions: This was all over the map with the judges, so off the top of my head Docbeard and Jagermonster, do better next time.

Unless you wrote about a man being bitch-slapped into a woman, though, most people don't have to feel too awful about what they did this week.

M. Propagandalf
Aug 9, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER

Whew! I didn't notice until today that my name wasn't even on the contestants page, and wondered if I had somehow transgressed some grievous sin to not be included.

The result is a... relief? Chalking up another piece of competent prose that's inherently wayward.

Darn.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002

aka sticklegs



Grimey Drawer

This is such a weird week. Am I still the only one that doesn't understand Didja Redo's at ALL?

Tough luck MProp. I wouldn't have given you the loss personally, but that's thunderdome.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

Right, gonna do winner/loser crits right off the bat, and also because they were the second and first submissions this week, respectively. I'll get the rest of you tomorrow.

M. Propagandalf
Looking Glass Self and Company

I admit that at the very beginning of my first read-through, I was prepared to like this. Watching people reflected in the windows of public transport is one of my favorite ways to pass the tired ride home from work each day. So I was all set to totally empathize with this guy. He's certainly kind of a sad character, being a self-loathing voyeur.

In fact, the basic premise here isn't half bad: A self-loathing voyeur who gets his kicks watching women's reflections is suddenly confronted with an unlikely reflection of himself, via the "ghost's" insight into his being in pain.

One issue with this piece is that it's just about half dialog, but about half of that dialog is just going around and around with neither of your characters telling us anything that we didn't observe in the first few paragraphs. The closest thing to any tension is when the reflected woman confronts him with the fact that he's in pain, and then his subsequent freakout before he gets off the train. But we don't really learn anything about who he is, why he is so voyeuristic, why he thinks women loathe him, or what the nature of the woman in the reflection is. Is he crazy?

Your imagery is clear, the point of the piece is not.

So, while I like the premise, it doesn't really go anywhere. We get bits of characterization, but I never got a sense of who he was as a person beyond that he's an ashamed pseudo-creep talking to a possibly imaginary friend on a train.

Dialog: 5/10, appropriate given the dialog-to-story ratio

Word Economy: AKA how hard did your words work. Again, the amount of dialog bites you in the rear end here, and the rest doesn't do too much more for the reader beyond setting the scene. 5/10

Depth of characterization: The thing that makes stories about mentally unstable or creepy people interesting is either giving us some insight WHY they are like that, or having your character subvert our expectations of them. This dude did neither. 4/10

Lack of heavy-handedness: I'm torn on this category. On the one hand, this felt pretty sparse. On the other hand, everything we do see, we are shown pretty bluntly. I'm going to say 6/10.

Meaning: What did this tell me about the human condition? Well like I said, the whole window-watching thing was almost a neat little observation. But then you didn't really go anywhere with it. 5/10, for setting back the cause of window-voyeurs 20 years.

Defining line: “Haha. Seriously though, what’s your deal?”



Didja Redo

Portraits

I like this one but I don't think I understand it fully. That said, you got a lot into just over 500 words, and while I don't know if I'm understanding the piece entirely, the questions I was left with at the end weren't necessarily the bad sort.

What I got out of the story was that Geoff has some sort of memory or cognitive condition that gives him a savant-like ability to render faces, but not remember them. I wish the ending had been just a little clearer; is Stacy his SO or his daughter? If she's his daughter, and the ending scene is him overlaying his daughter's face with a sketch of his own face, then I think I understand the story. If it's not his daughter, then I find the ending a little confusing. All in all though, this is a subtly creepy and moody piece and I found myself wanting to know more about Geoff.

Dialog: Less than 100 words of this story are dialog, and each one does something to tell us more about the situation. I found this exchange

quote:

Tom shrugged. "Those street guys only do faces. They still make money. I’d get a more comfortable seat, though."

"I don't mind the stool."

"For your clients, I mean."

particularly good. I love Geoff's obliviousness here. Scored 8.5/10.

Word economy: There's not a whole lot of fat on these bones. As I said above, you could've spared maybe 50-100 more words to flesh things out just a little bit more. 8/10

Depth of Characterization: You did great with this all the way up until the ending, for reasons I've already discussed. 7.75/10, though it could've been a 9.

Lack of heavy-handedness: Well you nailed this bit. It's kind of the opposite of heavy-handedness. 9/10

Meaning: This is the toughest part for me, since it feels like a meaningful piece but when I try to articulate the point, it's elusive. i/10.

Defining line: As the door closed, the wallpaper of sketches fluttered in the draught. Only slivers of peeling, blue paint showed through the white.

Accretionist
Nov 7, 2012



Sitting Here posted:

Meaning: This is the toughest part for me, since it feels like a meaningful piece but when I try to articulate the point, it's elusive. i/10.
I took it as simply attempting to share a little moment in the life of a brain-injury patient. Accordingly, as it was effective, it was also depressing.

Accretionist fucked around with this message at Sep 3, 2013 around 06:22

Didja Redo
Jan 24, 2010

Wanna try my freedom meat BBQ meat?

Sitting Here posted:

I wish the ending had been just a little clearer; is Stacy his SO or his daughter? If she's his daughter, and the ending scene is him overlaying his daughter's face with a sketch of his own face, then I think I understand the story.

Daughter, yes. I thought the mention of school and calling her "girl" rather than "woman" would be enough, but what do you do.

Wasn't expecting to win though, god drat. Someone'll have to fill me in on my judicial duties.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk

Didja Redo posted:

Daughter, yes. I thought the mention of school and calling her "girl" rather than "woman" would be enough, but what do you do.

Wasn't expecting to win though, god drat. Someone'll have to fill me in on my judicial duties.

Make up a prompt and post it in the next few hours. Here's a couple of templates.

I'll co-judge, pick another if you want one.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002

aka sticklegs



Grimey Drawer

make up some sort of prompt, tell us the word count, tell us to sign up by friday, tell us to post by midnight sunday, trick 2 other people into sharing your work load of judging/criting stories, make a list of people who sign up, give Sitting Here second place, post winner/losers ASAP while we verbally berate you for doing it too slowly.

now hurry up and post the prompt you slow rear end motherfucker

Nikaer Drekin
Oct 11, 2012


Didja Redo posted:

Daughter, yes. I thought the mention of school and calling her "girl" rather than "woman" would be enough, but what do you do.

Wasn't expecting to win though, god drat. Someone'll have to fill me in on my judicial duties.

Now you come up with your own prompt for this week, and either pick the two 'domers you want to judge with or ask for volunteers. You set the word count (which is usually ~1000 words) and the deadlines (generally Friday night for sign-ups and Sunday night for submissions). Once all the entries are in you convene with the other judges and judge the poo poo out of our literary toil!

Sitting Here's post from last week is a good example if you need one, and I believe there are links to all the announcement posts for the previous weeks in the OP.

Didja Redo
Jan 24, 2010

Wanna try my freedom meat BBQ meat?

Week 57: No characters allowed

Tell me a story without using people. It can be about people, but people must not make an appearance. Use scenery, atmosphere and any other tools at your disposal to explain what happened/what is happening. Animals and corpses are permitted. Using recordings, emails etc. as a dialogue substitute is not. You can have as many scenes as you want.

Points will be awarded for details. A scene that says “two people had a fight here” will not score as high as one that says “a gay couple had a fight about switching off their adoptive child’s life support here.”

Also, if you use your 1000 words to describe a wasteland indicative of apocalypse, you lose.

Judges: Me, sebmojo and the next one to step up.

Signups due: Saturday, 7th September, 11:59pm GMT

Submissions due: Sunday, 8th September, 11:59pm GMT

Participants: crabrock
Anathema Device
Nikaer Drekin
Econosaurus
Lord Windy
The Saddest Rhino
Mercedes
Fumblemouse
CancerCakes
Zack_Gochuck
docbeard
M. Propagandalf

Didja Redo fucked around with this message at Sep 7, 2013 around 23:02

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002

aka sticklegs



Grimey Drawer

sounds cool, i'm in.

Anathema Device
Dec 22, 2009

by Ion Helmet


Awesome, challenging prompt. I'm in. (Unless nobody steps up to judge by say, Friday. In that case, I'll volunteer.)

Also, I started writing crits for everyone this week, but ended up unexpectedly traveling for an emergency medical appointment. Crits on my computer at home, will post later this week.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk

Flash Rule

Every submitter must do a line by line crit of another story in this thread. Either pick one or you will be assigned one.

Nikaer Drekin
Oct 11, 2012


In, for sure.

Econosaurus
Sep 22, 2008

Successfully predicted nine of the last five recessions



I'm in.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002

aka sticklegs



Grimey Drawer

Mah entry crit:

Didja Redo posted:

Portraits (525 words)

"I have to draw your face or I'll forget it,” said Geoff, for the fourth time. Tom wondered if he realised he was doing it. POV Tom. I'm sensing that Geoff has some memory issues. I wonder where they come from?

He glanced at the clock. Twenty minutes. It felt longer. The stool was uncushioned. Icy prickles crawled up his cheeks. Why is Tom willing to sit here for so long? You tell me what he's doing, but you never really tell me why?

"I have to draw your face. I'll forget it if I don't."

"I know." How does he know? what is their relationship? How many times have they met? You're getting in a lot of great characterization of Geoff, but doing an absolute poo poo job of Tom. He basically exists to tell us about Geoff.

The pencil froze. In a second you tell me that there is a board between them, and they can't see one another. How does Tom know that the pencil stopped?"

"Don't talk," said Geoff. "Don't move your face. Stop smiling. You're not smiling in the picture."

Tom pushed his grin down. How did Geoff know he was smiling anyway? He’d positioned the drawing board directly between them. He couldn’t have seen him without leaning over. So how does he know? X-ray vision? does Tom smile too much all the time? You use this to set up some sort of 'weird poo poo is going on here vibe', but never deliver the goods by explaining wtf is happening.

Half an hour later, the ache in Tom’s back grew too much, and he winced. Geoff, saying nothing, stood up. because of his wince? or was the timing just purely coincidental? Why does Tom keep sitting there? What the hell is in this for him? I know Geoff ordered him not to talk, but what the gently caress is this guy thinking to himself about this whole thing?

Tom slid forward, waiting to be shown, but Geoff was busy putting his pencils away, one by one, softest to hardest.what's the significance of this? Is he an OCD with Amnesia? Also why does Tom notice that Geoff is doing this? So he looked for himself.

A charcoal mirror lay on the board.good line

"Hey, that's really good."

Geoff interposed himself, unclipping the page and holding it to his chest.aw, hugs

"Really good,” said Tom, craning his neck. “You could make a living off this." So this isn't a money transaction? I take away from this line that it's just a hobby. WHAT THE gently caress IS TOM DOING THERE? How does he know this guy?

"I only do faces."

Tom shrugged. "Those street guys only do faces. They still make money. I’d get a more comfortable seat, though."

"I don't mind the stool."

"For your clients, I mean." This line is funny.

Exit Tom. We never know why he was there, what he thought about this whole thing, or anything about him. What a waste of a character. You used half of your story in the mind of the dullest man alive.


Geoff did not slam the door when Tom left, because Geoff was in control of himself. POV Geoff

Things we know about Geoff: Amnesic, OCD, no anger control problems.

Stupid man, barging in every week in that same sweaty, From Tom's perspective, it doesn't seem like he wants to be there at all. I don't really believe Geoff that Tom just barged in. Tom was boring, but you didn't give me any clues that he was dishonest. He seemed kind and tolerating of Geoff's struggles. short-sleeve shirt with his book and his platitudes,So Tom is a Mormon Missionary? thinking he can help.In which way did he try to help? By suggesting that Geoff do this for a living? What does that have to do with the bible? Can’t turn him away, though. She wouldn’t want that. Nor would He. Who the gently caress do these pronouns belong to?

He took Tom to his bedroom and locked himself in.Why is he locking himself in? what is he afraid of? whom? As the door closed, the wallpaper of sketches fluttered in the draught. Only slivers of peeling, blue paint showed through the white.good lines

Not enough space. man, a lot of missionaries come to this guy's house.

The top of the page had creased in his grip, so he slid it into his guillotine and sheared it off. Still not enough. You sort of imply that he cut it off to make the paper smaller, but also say that he did it because of the crease. I think you only need one reason here, and I think that the size reason is the better of the two. He's already hugged it up against his chest, and they flutter in the wind, Geoff doesn't strike me as being too concerned with the physical state of the papers.

He picked out a corner and began pointing at the faces in turn. Benjamin, Moira, Anne…who’s that? So drawing people helps him remember these people. But who are these people he's naming? sisters? random acquaintances? more mormons? Just giving me a list of names tells me very little other than his memory isn't totally shot, but you show me this in other ways Roman nose. Curly hair. Charles. Cousin. Out of state. Probably wouldn’t see him again until Christmas. He could go in the drawer.

As he replaced Charles with Tom, the front door clicked open.weak verb That’d be Stacy, home from school. This is where this story really starts to fall apart for me. He knows it's stacy coming in, which means she's probably the only one with a key. He can remember that somebody has been gone a long time, and who she is, but he can't remember that he just said something? what kind of memory problems does he have? Stacy. He scanned the walls. Stacy. Where was she? He remembers her, but not what she looks like. Why? It seems like he hasn't seen these other people in even longer. You don't really give any reasoning for his lack of memory, or his lack of lack of memory. It seems to change based on what you need it to be. You could have gotten away with this if you would have established some basic rules for what he can remember, or time frames, etc. but it's all just sort of out there for us to guess at.

He slid into bed, So his daughter comes home, and he can't find her picture. his next move is to get into bed? what. sat upright and stared straight ahead at a girl that could have been his who is this girl? is it stacy? could have "been his" tells me he wants to bone her. I think, from what you posted, that you really meant "could have been his child." What sort of reasons does he have for thinking this picture could be of his kid? physical features?, and the man next to herI'm assuming that this is himself. He doesn't know what he looks like, and he doesn't know what his daughter looks like. He has a suspicion that the picture he's looking at could be his kid because of some reason.... so he looks at this picture... why not just put a mirror there? If I couldn't remember what I looked like I wouldn't put picture up of myself hoping to remember that was me. He just says "a man" so I'm assuming he doesn't even recognize that it's him, so he has utterly failed. Rubbed his eyes. Squinted, hands on his temples. Then he took the girl and the man, laid one over the other and held them up to the lightbulb. None of the lines matched. So they aren't related? that's not him? it's not her? WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE? This makes absolutely no sense given the total lack of context. You've ruined your whole story in the last two paragraphs trying to be sneaky and clever.

When had he last drawn her?more pronouns without telling me who. The girl in the picture? his daughter? maybe they are one in the same? Weeks ago? Months? He must have got better. He was terrible back then, but he’d got better.how? why? how does he know he got better, or why does he think so? Probably just made some mistakes.did he or didn't he? Is it really her or not? WHO ARE THESE PICTURES OF AND WHY THE HELL IS HE LOOKING AT THEM?

“Sweetie?” he called, crumpling her. “Sweetie, I need to draw you again.” because...? He obviously knows who she is, and he could just walk out and see what she looks like. You started your story on the topic of not being able to remember people. But you end it with him clearly remembering somebody, but not thinking his drawing is good enough? You don't need memory to see somebody's face. The time that face memory comes into effect is when you're seeing somebody again, and recognizing them. He knows who's out that door already, why does he need to remember what her face looks like?

I know that you won, and congrats and all, but personally I really don't like your story. I think that it starts off very strong, has some great characterization of Geoff from Tom's POV. Has some funny lines, tight dialogue, and a plot that's easy to understand. But I've watched some lovely movies that had good lines in them too.

Then you throw that all away by switching POVs into the mind of somebody who is frankly, not very trustworthy. I don't know what to believe of what he says, and what is just him thinking random crap. Also he magically stops repeating things that he's saying/thinking. He suddenly seems to get a better memory, and just stares at pictures instead. If you're going to have an unreliable narrator, don't put us in his head before we know wtf is going on, or else we're just lost. You won even though the judges didn't understand your story. You "Lost"ed them. By that I mean you set up this world with a bunch of mystery and strangeness that made people interested in having their questions answered, but then instead of giving answers you just got more confusing and then it just ended. There are so many things left unexplained, and unlike sitting here, I don't think it was in a good way. There's not enough for the reader to make inferences or guesses. I can guess that "she wouldn’t want that." means that Stacy wants him to have mormon missionaries in his house? But that makes no sense. These types of unanswered questions aren't the kind that you want the reader thinking about when they walk away from your piece. You want them to be thinking things like "does he ever end up remember his daughter? does Tom ever end up helping him? does his memory ever improve? does he ever start drawing for money?" those are good questions, "who he hell are "he" and "she" are not good questions.

Furthermore I think that all this mystery and confusing is just trying to be clever for the hell of it. Why not just tell us straight up who he's thinking of. He obviously knows or he wouldn't know what "she" wanted. who is "he?" and why doesn't "he" want it either? Is he Tom? His dad? Himself? it all is maddening. You might be able to explain all this to me, but that's not the point. You want your reader to be able to work this stuff out themselves. Even the judge said she couldn't do that, and she "thought" she understood the story, but that's with a lot of assuming and hand waving and ignoring other issues this brings up. I know that I'm not the only one to think "wtf" when reading your story either.

I kind of feel like giving you a win was a disservice to you, because you have some great concepts, some really tight writing, and awesome dialogue, wrapped up in a terrible mess of a delivery. Instead of making this an absolutely stellar piece that blew everything else out of the water, you wrote a confusing tale that nobody understands. It's not like you ran out of words, you could have explained a few more things in better detail. Instead you gave us a list of pointless names, but then for all the important characters you just gave us pronouns. I hope that you don't continue to write like this because you got a positive result from it once, because you could be a much better writer without the gimmick of confusing and befuddling your reader. If I was judging I probably would have given this a Dishonorable mention, tbh. But maybe I'm just a complete retard.

Lord Windy
Mar 26, 2010


I'm in, is the flash rule to do a crit of a submission from the round Didja Redo won or is it for the round we are submitting in?

Lord Windy fucked around with this message at Sep 4, 2013 around 01:47

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk

lol smackdown

Didja Redo, though it's never a good idea, you may want to respond to this. If so take it to Fiction Farm.

Lord Windy posted:

I'm in, is the flash rule to do a crit of a submission from the round Didja Redo win in or is it for the round we are submitting in?

Read the rules and do what they say.

And Flash Rule your story must have an unread book (or other text) in it.

ASSIGNED CRITS:

Anathema Device.

Nikaer Drekin.

Econosaurus.

Lord Windy.


Unless you've already picked one.

sebmojo fucked around with this message at Sep 4, 2013 around 10:03

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


Tentatively in lol

Mercedes
Mar 7, 2006

"So you Jesus?"

"And you black?"

"Nigga prove it!"

And so Black Jesus turned water into a bucket of chicken. And He saw that it was good.


Put me in and give me a story to crit Seb.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk

The Saddest Rhino posted:

Tentatively in lol

Do you want to pick a piece to crit, or be assigned one?

Note that crits don't have to be as lengthy, or as spittle-flecked, as crabrock's. But if you feel the rage, let it out.

Mercedes posted:

Put me in and give me a story to crit Seb.

Here.

sebmojo fucked around with this message at Sep 4, 2013 around 22:04

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002

aka sticklegs



Grimey Drawer

sebmojo posted:

Note that crits don't have to be as lengthy, or as spittle-flecked, as crabrock's. But if you feel the rage, let it out.

it's called tough love, like when your teacher berates you in front of the class when you do lovely on a test, or an uncle yells at you because you got struck out, or your dad hits you because he's drunk.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

Well I'm happy That Didja's story ended up getting more scrutiny after all. People are always welcome to contradict the judges (at their own risk), and it's perfectly appropriate I think to discuss any given week's winner/loser in the Fiction Advice thread or Fiction Farm.

Here's the rest of this week's crits. Sorry I couldn't do all of them as detailed as the first two, and sorry if I have less to say about some stories than others. Crits are for sure something I could get better at.


Econosaurus
Saturday Night

The bar setting was nothing new. It's always like, loud throbbing music and a human musk that clings to the narrator. I would've been more interested if Chris'd had to confront the temptation of alcohol in a nice quiet bar, where it wouldn't've have been so easy to pay off the bartender for the fake shot. There isn't much meat to his and Sarah's interaction, either, since the whole thing seems to last like 5 minutes before she heads home.

Sometimes it wasn't clear where your characters were in space. Like:


quote:



Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a frantically waving hand. Right between the bar and a young looking girl puking next to a trash can.


Now in the next sentence we learn that this disembodied waving hand is actually Sarah's hand, but it's confusing to introduce a character via the location of one body part.

On the one hand, I want to accept this as a story illustrating this guy's struggles with keeping his life on track. On the other hand, it doesn't really DO anything. The relationship between him and Sarah is kinda lifeless, and I'm not sure if at the end I'm supposed to feel happy that he loosened up or sad that he fell off the wagon.



Anathema Device
Hank's Used Books

This gets so close to being maudlin at the end. It isn't quite, but it could've been. That said, this was one I liked this week. What knocked it down a little bit for me was Alvin's mom. I thought she was a bit over the top, in a way that made her read like someone's impression of a stereotypical overbearing/bitter alcoholic mother. That, and the back and forth about "you raised me here", "[you're] just like your uncle", etc...is a little bit of heavy-handed background.

Still, the piece was rich with details and had some emotional gravity to it, which was what I was hoping for this week. I mainly just wish you'd done something riskier or more novel with Alvin's mom.



Lord Windy
The Centre

The judges had a mixed response on this one. I particularly liked it; it was sweet, simple, and to the point. That said, it also didn't take many risks, and there were a few places where the dialog got stilted. In particular, Simon's apparent aversion to contractions, even over the internet (intranet?), felt unnatural. You seem to have taken care to allude to Simon's condition, and while the "reveal" at the end that he was in a hospital isn't that shocking, the basic structure of the story is sound.

Some of the issues come from the setting. Your characters don't have room to have a whole lot of character in a call center. It is both a good and a bad thing that this could be a real situation* at thousands of workplaces around the world. The downside of that is that it's not terribly new territory.

Still, the story began and ended in a neat little arc, and what tension there was built up, climaxed, and resolved. So I'd say this is a nice practice sketch of a story.

There were some technical/comma problems but the people over in the fiction farm are better at that stuff than me. Also, and this may be a style thing, I like it when authors differentiate between spoken dialog and written communication. On the forums, I like to represent IMs and such with fixed width aka


code:
 

[fixed] [/fixed] 




but that might just be me.


*other than the part where the mean old lady is sympathetic at the end, that never really happens.



Crabrock
Nice Old Lady

Okay you got me. This was a good story. I would've stuck that first sentence elsewhere, possibly still in the first paragraph, but since it's the guy carrying the water and not the truck that are integral to the scene, I would've started from "Everybody underestimates how much water weighs..." and introduced the truck as something he's walking away from, maybe.

But after that, it hums right along, and the ending is satisfying enough. Your characters have distinct voices and I liked the wry narration of your protagonist. I guess it's just that this was like the 3rd grumpy/fussy old lady I'd read this week, and they all have kind of the same voice. While I am at any other time more than ok with caricaturing fussy old racists, I feel like really meaningful fiction needs to be more than your protagonist bouncing off of a strawman.


But then again, when I read "bubbler" at first, I thought you meant drug paraphernalia and was confused until I googled bubblers. Take from that what you will.



Helsing
Good Times

The narrator was way too passive for my tastes. "I'm not that strong" is kind of a weird thing to say to someone who's just asked you to prostitute yourself. This seems to be set in Canada, where the legality of prostitution is apparently a little more of a grey area than other places, but I only figured that out by googling Kensington Market. So taken at face value, your narrator is just weirdly passive about the whole thing. There isn't much revealed about her that she doesn't tell us.

The writing itself feels very distant and indirect, pretty much because the narrator just tells us the events in order with very little pause to set the scene. All of the dialog in the story is in the first part, where Claire is convincing the narrator to come along on her dinner date. This is sort of redundant, since we know they're going to go out with these guys, because it's already apparent that that's the point of the story.

I would've started in the restaurant, shown some interaction between the old guys and the girls. Was the narrator uncomfortable at first, and then relaxed as the night went on? Did she drink too much fancy wine, or did she stick to water out of nervousness? When the guy touches her knee, did she scoot closer or freeze up or start to pull away? All I get is that this girl is kinda iffy like maybe prostitution isn't for her but eh, her job sucks so why not? This is well-trodden territory. Broke-college-girl-becomes-high-class-escort is one of those clichés that you have to do something really interesting with to make it work.



Nikaer Drekin
Well Handled

Well this story certainly ended. I get that the Mr. Handler is the very "handler" that he's telling Brutus about, but then....????? It's like, two guys meet in a bar. One of them is the secretly cool dude that both of them are talking about. Usually in stories like this, the hero in disguise leaves the bar only for the supporting character to realize too late who they were talking to. Or something. But this just ends.

I dunno. It's hard for me to crit beyond that, because while the dialog starts out fine, you ate up a lot of words telling us this guy's backstory, when simply alluding to it would've fit the prompt a lot better. But at the very least, a proper ending, maybe some ironic twist or whatever, would have made it more of a fleshed out story. This reads like the beginning of what should be a longer scene.



Jagermonster
Discretion

A young lawyer tries to escape his work while waiting for his mother to come out of heart surgery, but the ubiquitous nature of modern communication makes it impossible. This is decent stuff, in theory. But the rambling on about the email back and forth....that is certainly a keyhole view into the life of a lawyer, but not the interesting part. I'm not saying he needed to be working on a big case or anything, but the story is ultimately supposed to be about him, not his work.

1000 words is not a lot. I would've taken the time to focus on him and his dad, who you sent out of the room so that Ben could check his email.



Schneider Heim
To Graduation

Nothing terribly riveting here. A day in the life of a game programmer. Sue hasn't undergone any sort of change (beyond sorting her emails) by the end. And her chit-chat with Karen wouldn't really be convincing as a pivotal, life-changing moment anyway. The dialog between Sue and Karen reads in a way that reminds of a transcript of the English dub of an anime. I don't know how to describe it better than that. It's like 2 degrees removed from how actual college students talk. It borders on cheesy. Like

quote:

Karen made a thumbs-up sign. "Hoped I helped, because I need to be going now. Tell everyone I said hi!" "You're the best, Professor Karen." "Don't jinx it!"


is some straight up Magic School Bus feel-goodery.

Also I have no idea who David is or why they talk about him.



docbeard
Call me

Rick is the smuggest dude ever. The dialog isn't bad, it just happens to revolve around a really smug dude. I do like the premise of the story, though. And it had a sort of beginning, middle and end. You took care to allude to something possibly uncanny or sinister about Rick's phone harasser. But he was just so smug, all dropping the phone in someone's beer (although that did give them a credible reason to get kicked out at the end and thus close the scene), plus I thought him and Laine had similar voices.

Beyond that this wasn't awful, but it would have been nice if there were less ultra-suave flirting and more things alluding to like who this guy is and why someone might harass him via phone for years.



Mercedes
Naïve

You wrote a story about a guy who gets slapped so hard he becomes a woman or something IDK????



Fumblemouse
The Full Aspie

I liked this. Charlotte was pretty endearing and Amanda came across well as the well-meaning friend trying to get the aspie to party. It would take a more detailed line-by-line than I have time for to find any real issues. One of my favs this week, this comedic and humorous look into the night life of someone with Asperger's.



Chairchucker
Gary Don't Mind

This is a charming little piece. Didn't really get too many clues as to why Gary is apparently so unfit to watch Lucy though, considering he seems to do alright enough. In fact, Paul seems like the really irresponsible one, something Lucy's mother seems to be oblivious to.

It suffers a little bit from being lots of talking heads in a sparsely described space. Like, it's almost ALL dialog and very little setting, and while it still works, I started to see your characters floating in white space rather than in Paul's apartment, the bar, etc. This was a couple ticks more serious than your usual stories and I liked that. More of this, but less empty space.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk

Sitting Here posted:

Chairchucker
Gary Don't Mind

This is a charming little piece. Didn't really get too many clues as to why Gary is apparently so unfit to watch Lucy though, considering he seems to do alright enough. In fact, Paul seems like the really irresponsible one, something Lucy's mother seems to be oblivious to.

It suffers a little bit from being lots of talking heads in a sparsely described space. Like, it's almost ALL dialog and very little setting, and while it still works, I started to see your characters floating in white space rather than in Paul's apartment, the bar, etc. This was a couple ticks more serious than your usual stories and I liked that. More of this, but less empty space.

On my reading, Gary is a paedophile.

Which makes the story really fuckin' dark.

Edit: But that's story chat, so shut up seb.

Fumblemouse
Mar 21, 2013


STANDARD
DEVIANT


Grimey Drawer

sebmojo posted:

so shut up seb.

...and give me a piece to crit, because I'm further in than Lucy Pevensie on Judgement Day.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk

Fumblemouse posted:

...and give me a piece to crit, because I'm further in than Lucy Pevensie on Judgement Day.

This one.

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


sebmojo posted:

Do you want to pick a piece to crit, or be assigned one?

Give it to me (so long as person being crit is still active in this thread)

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk

The Saddest Rhino posted:

Give it to me (so long as person being crit is still active in this thread)

Here.

Capntastic
Jan 13, 2005

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

Fallen Rib

Still waiting on judgment for the thunderbrawl me and that other guy had from a month ago.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk

Capntastic posted:

Still waiting on judgment for the thunderbrawl me and that other guy had from a month ago.

Is that the Nubile Hillock no-show? About the coffee plant?

Warming up the judgment lazer.

Mercedes
Mar 7, 2006

"So you Jesus?"

"And you black?"

"Nigga prove it!"

And so Black Jesus turned water into a bucket of chicken. And He saw that it was good.


quote:

Brunch (447 words)

Allan clumsily reached for Samantha's hand and gripped it tight as they left the station. He climbed the stairs with her, trying to ignore the teenage couple loitering and smoking cheap cigarettes. Instead, he followed the smell of her new perfume as[They're already holding hands] She guided him to the new cafe she'd discovered on the west side of town. A small establishment, crowded even at this early time of day, with the little Vietnamese proprietor rushing around and trying to keep up with orders.

He took a seat while she went up to order for him. At some forgotten point in their lives, she started to know what he wanted better than he did, so he simply let her do all of the ordering these days. She came back with the table number [It's completely unclear as to how you're making this restaurant work. There's a waitress “rushing around trying to keep up with orders” and at the same time you (I think) described an 'order at the counter, take a number and we'll bring the food to you' establishment. loving pick one. You're confusing those who actually know how restaurants work.] , and the two of them stared at each other for a long time.

“So,” he said. “Ten years, then.”

Her face wrinkled up at that. “Don't say it like that. Ten lovely years. Ten wonderful years.”

“They were, they were. Don't get me wrong. I just feel like they're starting to catch up with me.”

He knew she would laugh at that, and she did. “You're barely pushing fifty. Don't act like you're some old man hooked up to a colostomy bag. I didn't come here with you just to hear you moan about your troubles.”

He shook his head defensively. “Hey, hey [Stop that, goddamit]! I get it. I'll give it a rest. I'm just saying, is all...”

“Well, don't.” She leaned across a little and grabbed his hands, pulling them up onto the table. “Look at these. You know what these are?”

“Hands?”

“Working man's hands. Look at them.”

He did. Old, gnarled things, the way he saw them. Crooked claws with thorny talons. But he took another look, tried [There is no try, only do.] to see the scars in a different light. Each scar and stiff joint, he knew how they got that way. More importantly, he remembered that he'd done it all for her. He thought about all the things he still had left to do. He smiled at that.

“Guess you're right. Still got a long way to go.” He looked up at her. “Heh. Bet those kids back at the train station ain't gonna work as hard as me right?” [I already hate your characters. They're so loving melodramatic. If it wasn't for the hatred of your characters I would have fallen asleep to your coma inducing story.]

She opened her mouth to say something, but she was interrupted by the waitress. The young lady was holding mugs of coffee, looking for a place to put them. Allan realized he was still holding onto Samantha's hands, warm and tight. Embarrassed as a schoolboy, he quickly pulled away, and waited until the waitress was out of sight to reach out again. [What a pussy.]

Let me get this out of the way. Here's the plot.

Allan and Samantha go out to a diner. The end.

Congratulations for writing a story where nothing loving happens. Was that your flash rule? The dialogue was horrendous. I felt like I was witnessing a scene out of Passions with that little midget poo poo, Timothy, playing the role of Allan. gently caress that guy and gently caress Seb “I have a real doll problem” mojo for making me crit this.

Seriously, how can you justify submitting this as a full story? Conflict makes a story interesting. If everything is all honky dory, well then, good for them? We don't care. I don't want to read about someone having the perfect day all blushing.

Also, your bitch rear end Allan is a pussy. 10 years they've been married and already his hands are all gnarled and poo poo and they're that way because he worked hard for her . gently caress him. Some guy who has his hands all hosed up like that ain't gonna get all embarrassed to hold hands with his woman in public. He's more likely to have a thousand yard stare or something.

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


You have a cursing problem.

Lord Windy
Mar 26, 2010


Hey Seb, can you give me a story to crit as well please.

Lord Windy fucked around with this message at Sep 5, 2013 around 06:15

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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






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