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CancerCakes
Jan 10, 2006

WORST WIZARD, THUNDERDOME
LOSER


381

Kurst

The motor is running. The propellers whizz and the torpedo stays still, running hot in the bay. Like the fins of a fish held out of water the rudders twist and turn, flailing against the thin air, searching for some cool embrace of water.

Soon it will be released to fly to the target. That ship, once the biggest and brightest in a fleet of giant wonders, now lies silently below the summer ice. It has been compounded by practice firings into a wreck of a wreck. A few men designed it, thousands laboured to build it, hundreds crewed it. All loved it. Now it is a useful piece of garbage.

A twitching rudder strikes the wall of the tube, the scratch makes a spark that lights the darkness before sinking away. The propellor whirls on.

Fifteen feet ahead of the rudder, at the middle of the torpedo, in its bay, in the submarine, in “its” waters, a weld has shaken loose. A trickle of peroxide flows out, attacking the metal bay and forming oxygen and hot, hot steam. The trickle increases to a stream, and the compartment fills with the gasses. And overfills: the pressure increases as litres of peroxide flow forth. Each molecule pushes, searching for a space, searching for any weakness, any small chink in the armour.

The bay is designed for high pressures and multiple firings. It does not fail.

The rudders flick from side to side in the humid atmosphere, and the propellers whir, creating eddies and currents through the thick droplet filled air.

Pressure, too, is applied against the torpedo, still pregnant with its explosive charge. The casing begins to bend. But it holds fast. A torpedo is designed to withstand pressure from outside, the ordeal of firing, where water suddenly envelops it with all the force of the sea above.

Heat builds, and builds and builds. The kerosene that fuels the motor is boiling inside the tank, inside the torpedo, inside the submarine, under the ice.

A torpedo is not designed to withstand pressure from inside. If they were they would not be so effective.

Liquid fuel no longer reaches the propeller, it whines, and scratches to a stop.

The cruiser wreck flinches in the shockwave, as suddenly a spark arcs, lighting the darkness. And then sinks away.

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sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk

A little more than THREE HOURS remain.

GMT, bitches.

Zack_Gochuck
Jan 3, 2007

Stupid Wrestling People


Class of 2002 (405 Words)

“For Sale: Land” A big red “Reduced Price!” sticker pasted diagonally across the sign. The driveway, a minuscule opening in the trees on the side of Witless Bay Line. You’d never notice it if you drove faster than 50. The speed limit is 80. No transformer on the power-line, no cell-phone reception. In the driveway, deep ruts filled with water. The hump in the middle would tear the bottom out of anything less than a 4x4 truck. On the way down, along the sides, Molson Canadian cans are scattered amongst the bunch-berries under the black spruce.

A cabin made of plywood overlooks a pond at the end of the driveway. Maroon paint flakes off the side and gets carried away by the heedless breeze. The lone window is shattered. The door hangs open and a broken padlock rests on the nearby ground. A sheer rock-face borders the far side of the cabin. The words “Rog + Jen 2003” and “Goulds Rules” are written in neon-orange construction spray-paint.

The remains of a picnic table stands at the back. The top is covered in charred junks of wood as if someone lit a bonfire up there. Light shines through the hole in the middle, blackened around the edges, onto the ash below. The yard is littered with cigarette butts and beer cans. A rusted, metal tent-peg is left in the ground. A double mattress to the right, a large brown vomit-stain in the middle. A balled up hoody at the foot reads, “St. Kevin’s Class of 2002.”

Inside the cabin, the ceiling sags like a tarp filled with rainwater. A brown and yellow floral pattern love-seat sits under the window, caked in dust. A glass mixing bowl scattered across the floor, shattered. A battery powered radio lies on a shelf on the opposite wall. The batteries’ rot corrodes the back of the radio and disfigures the surface of the shelf. There’s a bottle of Tylenol planted further in. Its label faded from bright red to a dull pink. Expiry date: 1992. A bottle of nitroglycerin tablets stands guard to the side. Someone has spray-painted “Rog likes the dick” on the wall above.

Down the hall, there is a bedroom. It smells of mildew, and mould creeps up from the baseboards. There is a double bed with a box-spring, but no mattress. Over the bed, a wooden plaque reads “Heaven is a little closer at the cabin.”

docbeard
Jul 18, 2011

High marks for compassion, low marks for survival skills





CancerCakes posted:

I don't understand NZDT, so I'm in, and here is 1613 cunts of words. Break me upon the wheel of the thunderdome. Can do!


The Hunter

"What a lovely job this is," David muttered as the heavy rain hit the windscreen, forming flowing waves as the wipers struggled, the splatting accompanying a continuously chiming low fuel light. From one person who favors long, awkward sentences to another, this could be simplified. The sky was a sullen grey with no hint of the warm summer sun that it surely concealed. On the seat next to him was a small parcel, wrapped over-securely in layer upon layer of packing tape and a large envelope with "DO NOT FOLD" stamped in large red letters across it.

"A lovely job, in a lovely place." Nice repetition.

David had, in fact, never been to the village in Wales does it have a name? Or at least a comical attempt from David to render the name?, but he stuck to the stubborn viewpoint of if he couldn't pronounce it then it was poo poo. Now, three hours into a five hour journey, he farted and pulled off into a service station. After slopping some petrol into the tank he scurried to the kiosk and grabbed a basket, filling it to the brim with junk and caffeine. The floppy haired youth behind the register rang up the goods, and asked if he wanted a lottery ticket.

"What the hell," said David, "got a big score coming, I'll take ten!" Positive thinking for someone who's been so annoyed up to now. Which is fair enough, but the contrast between what he's thinking and what he says is really jarring, and I'd like to know why.

~

David's appearance in the community was commented on, and the information that a stranger had arrived was spread from each epicentre through dark looks and significant nods. You've said the same thing twice. He seemed to have brought with him an aura of gloom,; he had certainly brought unseasonably poor weather. And so David spent the rest of the day attempting to gather information about his target. You start here with an outside reaction to David's presence, but then move directly to his viewpoint. Maybe rewrite the first couple sentences as if he were noticing people respond to his presence instead. He prided himself on his work, he liked to think of himself as a contemporary Sherlock Holmes, gathering information on his prey and then striking. Nerdish quibble; Sherlock Holmes doesn't do anything like this, he knows everything he needs to know about someone the instant he spots them He was able to find out very little, it seemed that "Old Man Jones" was a modern day hermit, living at the old school house alone. During his investigations anytime someone had asked why he was searching out an old man, who had not been seen in the village for almost ten years, David had told them that he had something for him. This was, in fact, true. If he knows that Old Man Jones lives at the old schoolhouse, what else is he trying to find out? Is he just indulging himself, or does he need to know more before he 'strikes'?

He had driven with the parcel by his side visiting the pub, small supermarket and post office while water flooded down the cobbled streets, threatening to sweep him away every time he raced from car to door. Again, you're trying to make one sentence do too much. Split this up. His head was ringing with pain, and his back was sore, and his feet were soggy. Everything was poo poo. Finally he graced the B&B where he was to spend the night with his unique presence, bursting through the door like a sodden monster from the depths. Finally Probably don't need two 'finally's. You might not even need one. he caught a break when the old man who showed him to his damp mouldy room (and gruffly told him that the continental breakfast was six till seven, and that the front door was locked at 10pm every night), where the wind sang through the gaps in the window frame. When the old man did what? The man acknowledged that it was he who took parcels and groceries up to the old school house, and that he might talk more if he was less thirsty. What's stopping David from just taking the parcel to the schoolhouse himself? He certainly doesn't seem to be enjoying himself in town.

The village had been scoured by the heavy rain, and what little colour remained from the holiday spot’s heyday was dulled by a grey summer sky. The cloud cover pressed down with promised showers and as David walked to the pub for his rendezvous the first few street lights flickered on, tricked by the dim glow filtering through the weight of ice suspended above them. The pub had been a great draw when the tourists had visited the village in order to experience nature and the sea side 5 miles distant, but now only farmers and pensioners visited. There were two beers available, an ale and a lager. Nice bit of history for the village, but it probably could have been given to us earlier. David asked for a sweet white wine the landlord grumbled and stomped down to the cellar. This, on the other hand, I like; it very subtly tells us something about David.

The man from the hotel joined David and, after a pint, and a whiskey chaser, he admitted that the old laddy had a few odd ways about him. Does the man from the hotel have a name? Does anyone but David have a name? Is this Welsh village under a curse that has removed all their names? That would solve the pronunciation problem, at least. He insisted that Neifion (for that was the hotelier’s name) So much for that theory open any packages and letters in the village, anything that was not addressed to Jones was to be disposed of immediately, and also anything peculiar. At last, some justification for just why this is a more complex job than it seems. Comes a bit too late, though. They decided to make for the house after a few drinks, so that David might be introduced to the hermit by a friendly face, and walked out the door as the last order bell was rung, early at 5 o’clock. Neifion asked exactly why David was here and after he used his familiar lineWhich familiar line would that be? Neifion insisted that they open the package.

They meandered back, and the half a bottle of wine sloshing about inside David made him feel thoroughly convivial. The day was growing darker, but by some miracle the sun had broken through the thick clouds, so that the ground before them was mottled with lights and shadows that deceived the drunken eye, making them trip and stumble. Nevertheless they were in fine spirits, and staggered up the stairs to the small dingy room that was to be David's lodging for the night. I'm confused. I thought they were going up to meet Jones?

They paused and rested, to consider the parcel, and to begin to drink the other half of David's wine from cheap tea cups that dinged when they hit their intoxicated teeth. After a few gulps David could hear the high pitched ringing in his ears that signalled the onset of true drunkenness, as well as the waves and the tolling of a bouy bell.

They gleefully set about opening the package, and attacked it with a pocket knife, hacking through the thick layers of brown tape to the sweet cardboard fruit.So apparently David doesn't care if the package gets opened before he delivers it? More and more carefully they teased open the final layers to find a small metal box. After pausing to refill their teacups with the sour vinegarish wine and to listen to the waves and bells David reached forward and opened the metal box. At once the room was plunged into darkness: the sun had momentarily lost its battle with the clouds and the waves roared through the walls. David quickly slapped the switch next to the door, and the pair blinked in the harsh light from the fluorescent bulb above them.

In the box upon a bed of cotton wool lay a tin thimble.

They laughed, embarrassed and disappointed, and Neifion said it was time to go, and was very surprised when David replied that he would just listen to the waves and bells for a bit, and finish his bottle. Neifion was anxious that they would return from the school house before dinner, and insisted that they leave straight away. David seems reluctant to actually do his job. Is there a reason for this?

It took Neifion around an hour to acknowledge, through his drunken fog, that he was lost. Each time he considered it he dismissed the idea, he was raised here, man and boy. But every few minutes he was forced to stop, and would look around him at the trees and fields in a confused state and listen intently.
"I just don't understand it, the path is the same, but I can hear the sea! We should be miles away from it, the village isn't on the coast!"
David just smiled and nodded, and listened to the waves and the bells, and gripped the box in his pocket. So the thimble is loving with reality somehow. Did David know this was coming? Why on earth would he play along with it, or was this his plan all along?

David was moving ahead of him now, faster and faster, until Neifion suddenly lost sight of him behind some scrubland - he started forward and saw obsidian waves lapping at a black sand beach. Waves crashed in his ears and he heard a buoy bell appealing loudly - he felt horribly sea sick. The wind rose and Neifion was buffeted to the ground by the force of the gale, the spray almost blinding him and his hands striking the freezing black sand. The clouds yielded up their harvest and the full force of the rain fell upon them, but David was unbowed. Neifion watched through squinting eyes as David put the thimble on his finger and held it to his ear. David’s face was a mask as he slowly but surely pushed until the thimble was enveloped by the soft flesh. Finally, with a shove the thimble was inside and David fell down, dead. ...okay.

~

Neifion awoke to find himself in bed, with an IV in his arm. The nurse recounted how he had been found on the moors above the village, soaked through in a pneumonic state, and brought to the clinic where he had lain in state for three days. Next to the bed were two items that had been found in his jacket pocket, an envelope and a small metal box. Wild eyed he grabbed the box, but there was nothing inside. The envelope had a large crease down the centre, through the red letters stamped upon it.


Dear Sir,
We have reason to believe that you are inheritor of the estate of Mrs S___.A partial survivor of the Welsh No-Name Curse! Our agent will advise you of the particulars, and any expenses we have incurred in tracing the line of inheritance. While Mrs S___ passed away some time ago it has taken much expense to trace the sole beneficiary of the estate, and expect to be compensated for our efforts. We send with our agent an item which Mrs S___ specified should be supplied to the beneficiary as soon as possible following her death.
Yours,
D. L____
L____ Associates Okay, so Jones was the beneficiary and David was hired to deliver this magic thimble to him?


With the letter was a newspaper cutting: a woman’s body had been found at a beach in 1956, the morning after her house had been incinerated, husband presumed dead inside.

Neifion reached for the water next to the bed, and picked it up with a soft tinkle as his little finger hit the cup. Is he wearing the thimble? The glass chimed on the floor, and the water spread in neat concentric ripples.

------

Slapping my words down, gently caress the haters.

Long on atmosphere, short on comprehensibility (which is a charge that could be laid at my feet too, I know). You start out pretty strong, some awkward structural choices aside, but it never quite comes together, and the last bit is just a mess. The biggest problem I had here: I never quite understood just what David's motivations were in this whole thing. If he really was in No-Name Welsh Village just to deliver the package, and if he genuinely did hate being there, why all the complication? Not that this isn't a valid choice, it could tell me something about who David is, but you didn't quite get there.

And what the gently caress happened at the end? A question I know could be asked of some of what I've written (to the point where I almost wonder if there wasn't some design in pointing me in the direction of this story to crit), but whatever shocking ending you had in your head, it didn't make it onto the page at all.

There's some charm here, mostly in what we see of David's character, but it's not enough to carry the piece.

(Story coming momentarily).

docbeard
Jul 18, 2011

High marks for compassion, low marks for survival skills





Seems I’m not the only one writing on the short side. Not my original idea, but this worked out better, I hope. (No one cares.)

Impermanent Record
597 words

The footprints and tracks won’t last forever, not even here. No gusts of wind will cover them, no sudden rain will wash them away.. Likewise the discarded objects; rust requires air, decay requires life. But meteors and seismic events (not “earthquakes”, not here) and simple erosion caused by more subtle forces will do for them all in the end.

Such things are, nonetheless, as permanent a record of Lightbringer as any. They’ll outlast the survivors of the first manned mission to the moon in fifty years, the first such mission at all to the moon’s far side. They may well outlast the written records on Earth, and even the civilizations that gave rise to the mission.

An accounting:

Four heavy indentations, where the first moon lander sat. A wide ring of displaced, blackened dust, where it lifted off. About five hundred feet away, the second lander, its design largely unchanged since 1972, though the materials are newer, the computers both smaller and more powerful. Rated to carry four people, and hundreds of pounds of samples, off the surface and back into orbit. Dark now, its power supply long since depleted, even the solar cells, never set out to charge.

Seven sets of footprints around both landers, belonging to seven people from five nations, three women, four men. The landers had an official operational lifetime of five days. The mission had been scheduled to last three days. For six of the seven lunar explorers, it lasted four.

A large radio dish, set to beam to a satellite that still orbits the moon, to make communication with Earth more reliable on this and future missions. Not that future missions are likely any time soon. Lightbringer was controversial at best before it ever launched, and has only become more so in the wake of what happened.

Vehicle tracks, to and from the landing site. The two rovers, one brought with each lander, remain as well. They were always intended to be left behind. Not so the piles of rocks collected for study, the sample containers, the very few pieces from the first lander that could be described as nonessential.

A large steel tank, cracked open, its contents scattered nearby. Vapor when they left the pressurized fuel tank, the chemical propellants froze as they dispersed, and for the first time, it snowed on the moon. A simple accident, and catastrophic. Only one of four such tanks attached to the second lander, but that had been enough. The margins were too thin for redundancy; it wouldn’t launch with three, and the tank couldn’t be repaired, nor the fuel recovered.

Equations and formulas, scratched into the dust. They’d used the computers, of course, these were written later. The number 6 at the end of it all is circled, underlined several times, and then crossed out.

Seven sticks, left on the ground near the site of the first lander, one shorter than the others. The shortest one is snapped in half.

One set of footprints, leading away from the landing site.

A spacesuit lying on its back so its inhabitant can see the stars. A discarded set of oxygen tanks rests nearby.

Words, scratched in the dust, near the discarded tanks: “Look upon our works, ye mighty, and despair. gently caress you all, I’m never going home.” Scuffed spaces nearby, where dust was cleared away.

A body that, though it won’t last forever, will never decay.

CancerCakes
Jan 10, 2006

WORST WIZARD, THUNDERDOME
LOSER


docbeard posted:

Long on atmosphere, short on comprehensibility

Cheers for the crit, this story was my first ever entry into TD, but from what I remember there was a whole complex backstory. Basically the old man killed his wife, and changed his name. The wife cursed the thimble. David tracks down inheritors of items and tries to hold the items to ransom for a pay out. Thimble fucks everything up.

Insane, I know. I should have got a shametar for it that week, but someone else hosed up bigger. I'm still statistically the worst ever TD entrant though.

Sebmojo for dredging my past failure up instead of picking a half decent story (such as the one you didn't have the stomach to crit properly): brawl me, bitch.

Someone throw out a prompt, but the word limit needs to be 200, because I got poo poo to do dog.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk

CancerCakes posted:

Cheers for the crit, this story was my first ever entry into TD, but from what I remember there was a whole complex backstory. Basically the old man killed his wife, and changed his name. The wife cursed the thimble. David tracks down inheritors of items and tries to hold the items to ransom for a pay out. Thimble fucks everything up.

Insane, I know. I should have got a shametar for it that week, but someone else hosed up bigger. I'm still statistically the worst ever TD entrant though.

Sebmojo for dredging my past failure up instead of picking a half decent story (such as the one you didn't have the stomach to crit properly): brawl me, bitch.

Someone throw out a prompt, but the word limit needs to be 200, because I got poo poo to do dog.

I will break you.

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

CancerCakes posted:

I'm still statistically the worst ever TD entrant though.

I beg to differ!

CancerCakes: Wins: 0; Honorable Mentions: 3; Losses: 3; Dishonorable Mentions: 0
JonasSalk: Wins: 0; Honorable Mentions: 0; Losses: 4; Dishonorable Mentions: 1
Voliun: Wins: 0; Honorable Mentions: 0; Losses: 4; Dishonorable Mentions: 1

You'll need to suck with a bit more vigor if you wish to wear the crap crown, sir. Meanwhile:

Thunderbrawl: CancerCakes vs. sebmojo

Should you choose to accept it, your mission is to tell a story of inadequacy in 200 words or fewer. The interpretation is up to you, but stopping mid-narrative because you had inadequate words is the sort of cutesiness that will earn you naught but scorn and bile.

Deadline: Wednesday, September 11, 11:59pm USA EST.

Anathema Device
Dec 22, 2009

by Ion Helmet


sebmojo posted:

Tsh like that's ever stopped me.

Flash Rule

Use any two of:

A nest that rats have made in a ripped up high-fashion magazine.
Three apples in a bowl, one is rotten.
The smell of fresh bread.
A ball of multicoloured rubberbands.
A pile of clean laundry on an unmade bed.
A bridge over a stream, a tree has fallen on it smashing it.

I also gave myself a flash rule: Don't write about addiction, abuse, or mental illness (for once.)


Expecting
583 words

At the end of an unassuming street, in an area too rural to be a suburb but not too far from civilization, a house nestles among a tangle of willows. It's a modest house: three bedrooms, one bath, and it sits on a few acres of lightly wooded land. The paint on the old wooden siding is fresh, and the windows are the new sort that don't let in drafts.

The front door is locked, but the back door isn't. There's a pickup in the two car driveway and a basketball hoop attached to the shed. Twilight is falling, and the house is dark except for a single lamp by the back door and the faint glow of the digital clocks, blinking modem lights, and pervasive LEDs that seed any modern home.

There's the hum of the refrigerator, the low purr of the water heater, the incessant, treble throbbing of the frogs in the pond out back. There are no footsteps, no voices, no snores. The house smells of fresh bread, and heat still radiates from the oven. The loaf sits on a cooling rack on the counter, uncut.

The house is clean, but not neat. Two gaming controllers lie on the living room floor. A paperback is open on a small table next to a leather recliner. Children's books with pictures of dinosaurs and spaceships and bugs lay here and there. The print is large and the edges frayed from clumsy fingers.

There is a ball of multicolored rubber-bands on the stairs. A stuffed bear lies in the hall. The bedroom doors are open. One has a queen-size bed, unmade. Piles of laundry sit on it, folded but rumpled. Men's blue-jeans, a t-shirt, a maternity dress. A few pieces are rolled as if for packing. The closet is open, and a suitcase has been half-dragged from under the hanging uniforms on one side. There's space for another bag on top of it, but the bag is missing.

There is a bedroom painted blue, and a rumpled bedspread with a spaceship on it. One shelf is filled with books, the others with toy trucks and plastic dinosaurs and bits and pieces of science kits and beat-up old teddy-bears, all in a jumble. There are brightly colored drawings that may be dogs, or cats, or dinosaurs if one squints just right.

The third bedroom is yellow and smells of fresh paint and expectant readiness. The carpet is soft. A crib sits against one wall, a mobile over it. There are neatly folded blankets, onesies, and newborn-sized diapers. There's an empty trashcan with a tightly-closing lid. None of the packages have been opened. None of the blankets have been used. They are waiting.

There's still steam on the bathroom windows, and a man's razor next to the sink. There's a toothbrush holder that has just a bit of damp in three of the spaces, but no brushes. There's a towel discarded on the floor, and a dirty police uniform beside the shower. The water hasn't been turned off all the way. There was no time.

In the big bedroom a pager buzzes on the desk next to a police badge. There's a safe set into the wall, locked tight. There's a note with the number of the local hospital's maternity ward, and a notepad with the faint indentations that might be left behind when someone writes down directions fast.

The pager buzzes again and then goes quiet. The policeman isn't answering calls from work tonight.

Didja Redo
Jan 24, 2010

Wanna try my freedom meat BBQ meat?

Time's up.

Fumblemouse
Mar 21, 2013


STANDARD
DEVIANT


Grimey Drawer

wordcount 753

Tomorrow's fish and chip wrapper

There is something subtly wrong with this picture. It’s nearly impossible to put your finger on quite what, but once you know there is no escaping the unnerving sensation of displacement as it brazenly hangs against the museum wall, like a cuckoo’s egg in a foreign nest.

If you compared it to a photograph, one of the millions that have been taken in this very hallway, you might not see the differences. The colours are identical, the style immediately recognisable, and the subject calls attention to her fame and beauty like a siren serenades a lonely sailor - but these surface similarities belie the truth, because a photo will not tell you everything. It omits the third dimension, something not obvious to those who do not spend their time in places like this, preferring to educate themselves in the great works of the masters via coffee table books and postcards. But it is so, the extra dimension to every painting, texture, gives the game away. The way the paint lies upon the canvas, the way each bristle of a brush has clumped and grouped to make the strokes unique. The way the paint has curves and contours that catch the light in different ways. Just as a philosopher cannot step into the same river twice, an artist cannot re-paint a picture. If a man knew the work well, if he’d been to see it every day in his lunch hour, taking his place on the cushioned bench, by turns amused, depressed, inspired, then he might see it immediately, see the differences in thickness, in weight, in curve. But then again, he might not, because the art has been replaced by the full effect of the forger’s craft.

To create a perfect facsimile is no easy task. Vast amounts of work have gone into the duplicate, hoping to achieve a replica that would fool the casual eye and give a more experienced one little cause to look closer. Colours are one thing, but what goes into them, what makes them shine the way they do? The atoms of the molecule of art, the materials from which the work is constructed, the paints, the canvas, even the brushes, have been created only from materials available at the time of the piece’s creation. Pigments and palettes, canvas and frame, all remade religiously via science and history. Even the effects of time and light have been carefully emulated with as much precision as possible via judicious application of ultraviolet and air movement. The frames itself has been pierced by tiny holes that seemingly twist at random, to emulate the worms that feast on wood.

So it hangs here, with nothing to give away the fact that it’s an imposter but the minuscule physical imperfections that must exist in any copy. The velvet rope around it prevents anyone from getting too close, bars the world from seeing beneath the façade and makes a lie of the sense of history, place and occasion any visitor might feel when they buy their ticket and take their place in the queue to rest a moment in front of greatness. The tiny placard beside the rope fills in important details of the life of the painter, of the nature of the work but all the details refer to another piece, to which this is only an accompanying shadow. The sign reveals that behind the canvas is printed by hand an invocation to curse those who would steal by imitation, a conceit beloved of Albrecht Dürer and his fellow artisans. If someone were to walk beyond the velvet rope and lift the heavy canvas, they would see those same words, transcribed exactly and in fullest irony.

Another picture lies here, almost as an afterthought, on the cushioned bench so thoughtfully provided for viewers to rest upon as they stare at their own deception. Part of a newspaper, smaller and only black and white, this picture, too, is a copy, but one of multiple thousands, all reprinted with the mechanical ease of the printing press. It is also a picture of a face, capturing a moment of time in the life of a person that has since passed on - but here there is no placard to explain their fate. The surrounding headlines speak of mysterious circumstances, of chaos and confusion in the art community and of reverent testimonials to the magnificent work of the Museum Director who knew the art of ages past like no other.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk



Hm.

Fumblemouse, I may exercise judgely prerogative to let this one under the wire if you challenge someone to a brawl in the next hour.

Fumblemouse
Mar 21, 2013


STANDARD
DEVIANT


Grimey Drawer

sebmojo posted:

A little more than THREE HOURS remain.

GMT, bitches.

loving time-warping son of a cyber-bitch. I think you meant two hours.

Ah well - Judges, please look favourably upon my minutes late submission. What you may not know about me is that I am a complete loving idiot who cannot read a clock and was similarly dumb enough to let Semojo do my Dateline calculations.

I throw myself on the mercy of the judges, who are all looking remarkably attractive today, I note, apropos of nothing. Have y'all been working out? Even Sebmojo looks less like stainless steel rat vomit than usual.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002

aka sticklegs



Grimey Drawer

gently caress your time rules.

The Things They Left Behind
392 Words


Black sedans stop in front of wrought iron, reflecting the fence as twisted smears. The arbor is wrapped with vines and thorns, but nothing blooms. Doors open and shut unceremoniously. Though it is not raining, the air is wet with moisture. Drops of water coalesce and fall off the leaves of trees overhead. Several umbrellas are unfurled. A riderless horse walks through the arborway, following the caisson.

Chairs dig into the wet grass, sinking into the soil before settling. A book is opened on the lectern. It has an embroidered cover, and a leather bookmark. It is well-loved but seldom-used. More water falls to the ground. Time moves agonizingly slow, but always forward.

Rifles are pointed into the sky. Hammers strike, and one sharp crack pierces the stillness. The echo off nearby mountains is allowed to subside before the next volley. The final salvo’s echo has barely faded when beyond the trees,a somber tone reverberates off granite and marble.

In the drab and dreary, a lone beacon of color lay draped across spalted maple. Its edges flutter in the slightest traces of wind. It is removed and folded into a triangle. Taught, devoid of wrinkles, three brass casings are tucked into the folds.

#

The bleachers are empty, the bats and gloves packed away for another season. A ball hits the backstop, rattling the chainlink. There is no glove to catch it. The universe does not allow it to travel back to its point of origin unassisted.

A bike barrels down the sidewalk. A menagerie of broken parts and chipped paint, a time capsule, a relic of broken promises. It coasts, riderless, and crashes into the garage door. The thunder of sheet metal startles birds to flight.

Small shoes leave transient impressions in the carpet. The refrigerator is opened but there is nothing inside but condiments and spoiled food. It rarely gets stocked anymore. Down the hallway the bed is half-made, and half-occupied. Few are the days where it is fully one or the other.

In the dark and lonely, the television’s flicker illuminates the stained sofa through the night. The bathtub is dry, the toothbrush unused, the dressers still empty. The school bus stops briefly outside the house, and pulls away. All it leaves behind are the sounds of muffled sobbing. Time never moves backwards, regardless of the begging it sees.

Nikaer Drekin
Oct 11, 2012


crabrock posted:

gently caress your time rules.

Drift
(897 Words)

The Fortune Fish has gone twelve days without a crew or a captain, with no heading. Still it drifts on. Before, a man at the helm fought the waves, but now the ship and the water travel together, basking in silence. The world is theirs, the ocean an ever-stretching field of possibility.

The ship has earned its rest. Its timbers are cracked and tender. They creak when the wind breathes through, a low moan uttered and unheard. Below deck the cannons jostle about like lead gallstones. Provisions in barrels rot, and so does the once-captain. He hangs like a doll over the splintered railing. There is a hole in his head and a spent flintlock on the floor.

The ship tolerates his presence. He will be gone soon, nibbled up by time or swept away by a salty breeze. It doesn't matter which way. Different currents, same destination.

There is a white speck in the air. It is a gull with aching wings and wet, ripped feathers. The gull is delirious and cannot see, but it strains to keep flying and hits one of the dark sails hanging from the ship's center mast. Its wings finally give out, and the gull lets go and slides down the coarse fabric. It clatters onto the deck where it lies, twisted and crumpled. The rapid thumps of its heart slow to an even pace.

The ship and the feathery lump on its deck drift together.

In a few hours the gull is up and waddling. It tests its wings but is frightened by a jolt of pain and decides to hop around the Fortune Fish instead. It has not yet built up the courage to venture below deck, so it must rely on the once-captain for nourishment. The gull digs its bill into the man's back. It chokes down the dead flesh and bits of tattered coat, compelled by its stomach's angry rattling, though soon it cannot fit any more. Insides now calm, the gull perches on the deck and digests, belly fuller than it though possible.

The ship's belly is full, too. It sags under the weight of a veritable lake of treasure locked away in the lowest compartment, water trickling in from the cracked hull and creating a gilded swamp. The winds nudge the ship along, but the water pulls also.

The gull wakes from a deep night's rest and automatically springs up into the air. It feels the sharp ache of its damaged wings too late, travels a few yards before falling and colliding with the deck. For the rest of the day the gull tries to fly again, the ship contentedly serving as launch pad and crash zone.

The gull knows somewhere in its gull brain that it is lucky to have found the ship. The sea is selfish. It would try to get its hooks in and drag the gull down, drenching its feathers and flushing its lungs full of water. What the sea wants, it takes. One by one, the gull works out the aches and kinks in its muscles. It flaps up to the crow's nest and perches, watching the sun set over the vast, unbroken valley of the sea.

The next days follow a routine: the gull wakes with dawn, pecks a few morsels from the back of the once-captain, and then flits back and forth across the ship, scanning the horizon for a dot of land. The cold fingers of the sea creep up the ship's sides and back. It rises only an inch or two a day, but it's enough for the wet weight to seep through and drag a little more by nightfall. When dusk settles on the sea, the gull returns to the crow's nest to sleep. It craves solid land. All this floating around is for jellyfish.

One day the gull wakes to find water seeping through the railing and covering the deck. It flutters down to see what has happened. The ocean keeps rising, faster than before, swallowing up the railing and reaching the upper deck. The gull coasts over to the body of the once-captain, now floating face-down on the choppy waves. Landing on his head, the gull snaps at his flesh a few more times, but breakfast is cut short when the body starts to glide away from the boat. The sea trickles up the mast, and the gull flies to the crow's nest to watch the once-captain's carcass glide out of view.

The gull turns around and sees a handful of specks at the horizon's edge. Its wings twitch with thoughts and hopes of land. Maybe not home, but a place a lot like it. Every animal instinct shouts at the gull to take off and head for the islands, but it doesn't leave yet.

The Fortune Fish must stop drifting soon. The ocean envelops it in an embrace that's tender and suffocating. And final. The water swells up and swallows the crow's nest and the gull does not sink down with it. As the water around the ship goes from clear sapphire to hazy ink, the ship does not muse on the finality of its fate. It does not wonder if the gull looks back at it. It is just a ship.

The gull does look back. It sees only the waves, slicing and churning, urging it on to the shore.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk


Crabrock
Nikaer Drekin
Fumblemouse


We have our contestants.

Three way brawl, loser is disqualified and the other two are not.

500 words max, due exactly 24 hours from now, topic is a clock that tells the wrong time.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002

aka sticklegs



Grimey Drawer

is its name sebmojo?

Sep 8, 2013 13:36

sebmojo posted:

A little more than THREE HOURS remain.

GMT, bitches.

Sep 8, 2013 16:25

crabrock posted:

gently caress your time rules.

also known as: not quite three hours later.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk

Well, mistakes were made. But GMT is GMT.

I'm getting pretty invested in this three way now, so you should probably sign up for it.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002

aka sticklegs



Grimey Drawer

I shall pound out something.

Nikaer Drekin
Oct 11, 2012


Yeah, I'll do it. Bring it on, Crab n' Mouse!

Econosaurus
Sep 22, 2008

Successfully predicted nine of the last five recessions



I thought the deadline was moved to Tuesday?!

Anathema Device
Dec 22, 2009

by Ion Helmet


Econosaurus posted:

I thought the deadline was moved to Tuesday?!

This was for a duel, I believe. Can't gently caress with the weekly deadlines or the next week will be screwed up.

Fumblemouse
Mar 21, 2013


STANDARD
DEVIANT


Grimey Drawer

I'm in. Don't let it hold up the judging, though, because these two late-oes probably won't even be able to submit their 'apologies for failing to show' messages on time.

Fumblemouse fucked around with this message at Sep 9, 2013 around 03:03

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk

Anathema Device posted:

This was for a duel, I believe. Can't gently caress with the weekly deadlines or the next week will be screwed up.

THE STORIES MUST FLOW.

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.


I'm going to assume that the deadline is 2 am EST cause

Lord Windy
Mar 26, 2010


WHy would it be? The deadline was up almost 5 hours ago

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

Lord Windy posted:

WHy would it be? The deadline was up almost 5 hours ago

Because

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.


A 7pm deadline? Please.

Counter Clock Wise

349 Words


The skeleton relaxed face down in the Florida heat, segmented and cracked under a thick brush. It was hesitant at first, but it knew it was time to get up. It struggled, but managed to shuffle his bones closer together and started constructing ligaments to keep its body from rolling away.

The mending process was far to difficult for the skeleton to go at alone, so it reluctantly asked his friends for help. The response was slow, but steady. Beetles marched backwards to the skeleton's aid, carrying pieces of connective tissue. As the beetles worked, the maggots and flies showed up to lend a hand.

The skeleton was happy that he had friends who came to his aid. Everyone's efforts were concerted and frantic in their work, yet surgically accurate. The wriggling mass of larvae reconstructed delicate blood vessels while other insects meticulously placed flesh into place.

A possum joined the party and backed into the clearing, keeping an eye out for anything that might disturb their efforts. After being certain that nothing followed him there, he turned around and shoved a large chunk of muscle into the skeleton's leg as if it were a jigsaw piece. Nodding at a job well done, the possum backed away from the body to give others a chance to come by and help with the restoration. Larger animals had more to offer than the possum – they would regurgitate other pieces of flesh and flawlessly knit it back into place.

The skeleton had skin and muscles, but the flies and maggots knew it was missing vital organs. They fiercely worked at building the skeleton some eyes, a heart and other entrails. Now that the workspace was enclosed, the heat and gases distended the body, but that didn't slow anyone down.

Finally, with the body complete, the flies and maggots left – proud of a job well done. Only one last thing left to bring the skeleton back to life. It pushed itself off the ground and the skull bones that were penetrated on a sharp looking rock quickly mended itself back together.

Mercedes fucked around with this message at Sep 9, 2013 around 05:05

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.

Zack_Gochuck posted:

Tastes like poo poo.


I'll post my piece in a bit.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Past_perfect

Thank me later.

Zack_Gochuck
Jan 3, 2007

Stupid Wrestling People



I know it's technically correct, but something has to be said for being concise. I can see your argument for the first half of the first paragraph, but when you get into the poo poo "she'd just turned 17" and "her mother had agreed" that stuff is all in the present within the confines of the story. Her mother is still agreeing to let her go, and she still just turned 17. We can argue about it until we're are blue in the face, but the fact of the matter is, as a reader, not a writer, putting the entire first paragraph of your story in the pluperfect tense totally threw me off.

Zack_Gochuck fucked around with this message at Sep 9, 2013 around 11:52

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk

I still haven't heard from my co-judge, so reply to your pm Redo. In the meantime, some crits.

Now, this prompt was pretty much hard as balls (and very excellent with it), so maybe it's not surprising that people flubbed it. But man there were some crappy ones this week.

Lord Windy posted:

Metal Men
302 words

The back end of the ship had been blown open. Good opening. The engines and storage be more specific here were unsalvageable. Dozens of metal men had flooded into the cargo rooms. Lockers, cabinets and even the metal men had been shoved into every rend and breach. Others in yellow overalls with welders in their hands stood around sealed doors. You're in a weird awkward tense here, it's not clear where you're talking from and 'had been' implies an actor without really specifying it, and that's a problem in a story this short. Keep it simple with tenses.

Life Support oh so it's a spaceship? lay beyond the sealed doors. Metal men in yellow overalls, the same as before stood inside. Each had cables flowing directly into the large machines that lined the room. One of them, surrounded by bottles and open containers stood at an intake. In his hand was a canister labeled isoflurane. Suck it chemistry morons, get your rear end to Google

Life support lead ? into a long hallway with three rooms on each side. Inside every room were two occupants. tense One, always radically different looking to the other, was a human strapped into their bed. The other was a metal man, hunched over their bodies.

An old woman with free flowing white hair lay in Room 4. Her eyes are open unlike the rest. She is frozen in place, with her hands on either side of the metal man’s head. The metal man had one hand gently on the side of her face. Fingers tangled in her hair. The other held a syringe in her neck.

Finally the bridge. A figure in a space suit is slumped at the helm, looking out to space. A syringe and an un-opened envelope lay next to the chair. Metal men were gathered at the figures side. They were looking at a blue screen.

The metal men, lightly covered in dust, who had gathered around it did nothing. They stood in silent vigil.

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

This prompt was really hard and it put me way out of my comfort zone. I think I'm going to get my story across with it, but after the crits come out I will be taking it to the fiction farm to fix anything broken with it. I like the story a lot and I had fun writing it, I just don't have the experience yet to know if I did it right. Don't care about this stuff.

Okay, I really don't get this one at all. It's got weird tense isues, some kind of deeply significant arrangement of chemicals and I'm not getting the story you're putting across but it seems hella melodramatic from what I can gather. Possible loser.

The Saddest Rhino posted:

Technicolour Saturday Morning Daydream (approx. 600 words)

The tiny bulk of the television is on a cabinet at the back of the room. Steel antennas poke out of its back, pinpointing at random directions. So awkward, and unbecoming, for an altar of rainy evenings of indulgence and lonesomeness. Who is watching this? On the wall behind it are posters of Akira and Double Dragon, glossy uneven relics cut carelessly from entertainment magazines I don't think this adds anything apart from a little smug editorialising. The screen of the television flickers, chanting scratches and information. What?

AV cables of yellow and red trail out from a small panel behind, leading to the little gray device on the floor before the cabinet. A peeling sticker of Micro Genius is pasted on its side - a clone console of the Nintendo Famicom, common in third world countries, gracelessly parodying the rise of capitalism. Ugh. Beside a well-thumbed control pad is a notebook, filled with scribbles of fighting moves and special attack combinations, and empty threats of beating the high scores of schoolmates. You'

The television cabinet door is ajar, and from within spills out open boxes of the console’s games, adorning colourful art of mascot animals and caped supermen. Instruction manuals and overheating warning pamphlets spread beneath the boxes, untouched. None of the boxes had cartridges inside.

A sole unmarked video game cartridge is in plugged in the console. Its label is the colour of want. So, brown? Like beer? Because this sentence makes me want to start drinking beer and not stop until I die.

The television screen flickers. In between the bursts of static, it shifts to the only scene of the video game,How do we know? the background colour identical to the cartridge label’s.

Vague monochrome shapes move across as a slow MIDI version of a familiar, yet unknown folksong plays. There are no characters, nor any text depicting the title of the game, nor any prompt to press a start button. There is a cushion pictured onscreen, facing diagonally against the corner of the television with tassels on the side. Its pixels are arranged perfectly safe a digit here and there, rendering the angles uneven yet correct, crooked yet real. Every few flicker, the cushion moves just slightly forward or backwards, yet it remains static.

A placard is set on the cushion.

In all its 8 bit simplicity, font size and clarity limited by technology, are two words:

Desire me.

As the words burn into its CRT lens, the television slowly loses power from the overheating. Its screens dark now, reflected on it a wastepaper basket sitting at the far corner of the room. It is filled with black, tiny objects BE LESS SPECIFIC PLEASE I HATE DESCRIPTIONS OF THINGS haphazardly thrown together. Its wireframe is twisted by heat, the wall behind it and the carpet it sits on pitch black with soot. An overwhelming smell WHO IS BEING OVERWHELMED of burnt plastic fills the room, gradually being dissipated by the draft let inside. Embers of wasted lifetimes float to the ceiling and fall, forgotten.

Also reflected is the control pad, its cables completely severed by gnawing, split wires of gray and white scattered about. A blanket with a bootleg Calvin & Hobbes pattern is tossed aside, the apple juice stain on it drying. Beside the broken glass was a tuna mayo half eaten sandwich, flat with a foot imprint, the tuna and mayo inside squeezed out.

Tiny droplets of blood and glass shards form a line across the carpet leading out of the room, out into the hallway, out through the open front doors, out down the small steps, out through the lawn and to the pavements, out to quiet, uneventful suburbia.

The television is reflecting the scenery outside the house. A car is parked across the middle of the road, its engine running, skid marks still fresh under its wheels. There is hair and blood on the hood.

Somewhere, someone is screaming.

Crikey, I kind of hated this one too. You're a solid writer, Rhino, but this is melodramatic and overdescribed where it isn't pompous. Also a possible loser.

CancerCakes posted:

381

Kurst

The motor is running. Weak. The propellers whizz WHIZZZZZZZZ and the torpedo stays still, running hot in the bay. What bay? I am confused. Plus, who is watching this? Like the fins of a fish held out of water the rudders twist and turn, flailing against the thin air, searching for some cool embrace of water.

Soon it will be released to fly to the target. That ship, once the biggest and brightest in a fleet of giant wonders, now lies silently below the summer ice. It has been compounded by practice firings this lands leadenly into a wreck of a wreck. A few men designed it, thousands laboured to build it, hundreds crewed it. All loved it. Now it is a useful piece of garbage. Okay, I'm getting a sort of cyberpunk David Attenborough vibe from the narrator now, we cool.

A twitching the perfectly wrong word rudder strikes the wall of the tube, the scratch makes a spark that lights the darkness before sinking away. Whuh? The propellor whirls on.

Fifteen feet ahead of the rudder, at the middle of the torpedo, in its bay, in the submarine, in “its” waters, a weld has shaken loose. A trickle of peroxide flows out, attacking the metal bay and forming oxygen and hot, hot steam. The trickle increases to a stream, and the compartment fills with the gasses. And overfills: the pressure increases as litres of peroxide flow forth. Each molecule pushes, searching for a space, searching for any weakness, any small chink in the armour. Chemistry lesson.

The bay is designed for high pressures and multiple firings. It does not fail.

The rudders flick from side to side in the humid atmosphere, and the propellers whir, creating eddies and currents through the thick droplet filled air.

Pressure, too, is applied against the torpedo, still pregnant with its explosive charge. The casing begins to bend. But it holds fast. A torpedo is designed to withstand pressure from outside, the ordeal of firing, where water suddenly envelops it with all the force of the sea above.

Heat builds, and builds and builds. The kerosene that fuels the motor is boiling inside the tank, inside the torpedo, inside the submarine, under the ice.

A torpedo is not designed to withstand pressure from inside. If they were they would not be so effective.

Liquid fuel no longer reaches the propeller, it whines, and scratches to a stop.

The cruiser wreck flinches in the shockwave, as suddenly a spark arcs, lighting the darkness. And then sinks away.

Goodness gracious me this was pretty bad too. Another possible loser.

Okay who's next?

Zack_Gochuck posted:

Class of 2002 (405 Words)

“For Sale: Land” A big red “Reduced Price!” sticker pasted diagonally across the sign. The driveway, a minuscule opening in the trees on the side of Witless Bay Line. You’d never notice it if you drove faster than 50. The speed limit is 80. No transformer on the power-line, no cell-phone reception. In the driveway, deep ruts filled with water. The hump in the middle would tear the bottom out of anything less than a 4x4 truck. On the way down, along the sides, Molson Canadian cans are scattered amongst the bunch-berries under the black spruce. Oh thank gently caress that's better. Notice how Zack is gently implying a narrator, the sort of person who might drive by on the road. Doesnt' need to be an actual person, just that there is a mold for our perceptions as readers to settle into. So now we have a feeling of a person getting out of their 4x4, crunching up the drive. Good work.

A cabin made of plywood overlooks a pond at the end of the driveway. Maroon paint flakes off the side and gets carried away by the heedless Nope. breeze. The lone window is shattered. The door hangs open and a broken padlock rests Is it taking a wee holiday. on the nearby ground. A sheer rock-face borders the far side of the cabin. The words “Rog + Jen 2003” and “Goulds Rules” are written in neon-orange construction spray-paint.

The remains of a picnic table stands at the back. The top is covered in charred junks of wood as if someone lit a bonfire up there. Do you mean the roof? Light shines through the hole in the middle, blackened around the edges, onto the ash below. The yard is littered with cigarette butts and beer cans. A rusted, metal tent-peg is left in the ground. A double mattress to the right, a large brown vomit-stain in the middle. A balled up hoody at the foot reads, “St. Kevin’s Class of 2002.”

Inside the cabin, the ceiling sags like a tarp filled with rainwater. A brown and yellow floral pattern love-seat sits under the window, caked in dust. A glass mixing bowl scattered across the floor, shattered. A battery powered radio lies on a shelf on the opposite wall. The batteries’ rot corrodes the back of the radio and disfigures the surface of the shelf. There’s a bottle of Tylenol planted further in. Its label faded from bright red to a dull pink. Expiry date: 1992. A bottle of nitroglycerin tablets stands guard to the side. Someone has spray-painted “Rog likes the dick” on the wall above. Primo paragraph.

Down the hall, there is a bedroom. It smells of mildew, and mould creeps up from the baseboards. There is a double bed with a box-spring, but no mattress. Over the bed, a wooden plaque reads “Heaven is a little closer at the cabin.” And bam. That's a great ending.

Aside for a few places where you went a bit purple on the narration, that was great. A richly imagined desolation.

docbeard posted:

Seems I’m not the only one writing on the short side. Not my original idea, but this worked out better, I hope. (No one cares.) Correct.

Impermanent Record
597 words

The footprints and tracks won’t last forever, not even here. Okay, interesting, sets up a dichotomy. No gusts of wind will cover them, no sudden rain will wash them away.. Likewise the discarded objects; rust requires air, decay requires life. But meteors and seismic events (not “earthquakes”, not here) and simple erosion caused by more subtle forces will do for them all in the end. But sort of squanders it by laborious circumlocution. You could have done an awesome description of Mare Serenitatis or wtfever but you wibbled away implying that we're on the moon. WE ARE ON THE MOON ENDY FUCKEN STORY. Plus, who is watching this? Always have a sense of that.

Such things are, nonetheless, as permanent a record of Lightbringer as any. They’ll outlast the survivors of the first manned mission to the moon in fifty years, the first such mission at all to the moon’s far side. They may well outlast the written records on Earth, and even the civilizations that gave rise to the mission. WHO IS TALKING

An accounting:

Four heavy indentations, where the first moon lander sat. A wide ring of displaced, blackened dust, where it lifted off. About five hundred feet away, the second lander, its design largely unchanged since 1972, though the materials are newer, the computers both smaller and more powerful. Rated to carry four people, and hundreds of pounds of samples, off the surface and back into orbit. Dark now, its power supply long since depleted, even the solar cells, never set out to charge.

Seven sets of footprints around both landers, belonging to seven people from five nations, three women, four men. The landers had an official operational lifetime of five days. The mission had been scheduled to last three days. For six of the seven lunar explorers, it lasted four. Describe, don't editorialise.

A large radio dish, set to beam to a satellite that still orbits the moon, to make communication with Earth more reliable on this and future missions. Not that future missions are likely any time soon. Lightbringer was controversial at best before it ever launched, and has only become more so in the wake of what happened.

Vehicle tracks, to and from the landing site. The two rovers, one brought with each lander, remain as well. They were always intended to be left behind. Not so the piles of rocks collected for study, the sample containers, the very few pieces from the first lander that could be described as nonessential.

A large steel tank, cracked open, its contents scattered nearby. Vapor when they left the pressurized fuel tank, the chemical propellants froze as they dispersed, and for the first time, it snowed on the moon. A simple accident, and catastrophic. Only one of four such tanks attached to the second lander, but that had been enough. The margins were too thin for redundancy; it wouldn’t launch with three, and the tank couldn’t be repaired, nor the fuel recovered.

Equations and formulas, scratched into the dust. They’d used the computers, of course, these were written later. The number 6 at the end of it all is circled, underlined several times, and then crossed out. BING BONG HELLO THIS IS LEADEN SLEDGEHAMMER POINT YOU WANTED A LEADEN SLEDGEHAMMER POINT WHY YES I DID OK SIGN HERE PLEASE. While this is clear, it's melodramatic like many of the entries this week.

Seven sticks, left on the ground near the site of the first lander, one shorter than the others. The shortest one is snapped in half.

One set of footprints, leading away from the landing site.

A spacesuit lying on its back so its inhabitant can see the stars. A discarded set of oxygen tanks rests nearby.

Words, scratched in the dust, near the discarded tanks: “Look upon our works, ye mighty, and despair. gently caress you all, I’m never going home.” I think you could have had something much cooler here, Ozymandias really doesn't make any sense.Scuffed spaces nearby, where dust was cleared away.

A body that, though it won’t last forever, will never decay. Ehhhh no, this doesn't really land its punch or justify the opening.

This was actually a pretty cool idea, but you flubbed pretty much all the points where you could have delivered on that coolness. Plus, as with everyone but Zack so far, you had a sort of amorphous freefloating narrator editorialising all over the place. Possible loser.

Anathema Device posted:


Expecting
583 words

At the end of an unassuming street, in an area too rural to be a suburb but not too far from civilization, a house nestles among a tangle of willows. It's a modest house: three bedrooms, one bath, and it sits on a few acres of lightly wooded land. The paint on the old wooden siding is fresh, and the windows are the new sort that don't let in drafts. I like this last bit. The italicised parts are a little arch.

The front door is locked, but the back door isn't. There's a pickup in the two car driveway and a basketball hoop attached to the shed. Twilight is falling, and the house is dark except for a single lamp by the back door and the faint glow of the digital clocks, blinking modem lights, and pervasive LEDs that seed any modern home. The ones who were ... less unsuccessful this week treated their narrator as a sort of camera and this is what's happening here - you cna imagine a person walking up to the front door, checking out the back.

There's the hum of the refrigerator, the low purr of the water heater, the incessant, treble throbbing of the frogs in the pond out back. There are no footsteps, no voices, no snores. The house smells of fresh bread, and heat still radiates from the oven. The loaf sits on a cooling rack on the counter, uncut.

The house is clean, but not neat. a nice distinction Two gaming controllers lie on the living room floor. A paperback is open on a small table next to a leather recliner. Children's books with pictures of dinosaurs and spaceships and bugs lay here and there. The print is large and the edges frayed from clumsy fingers.

There is a ball of multicolored rubber-bands on the stairs. A stuffed bear lies in the hall. The bedroom doors are open. One has a queen-size bed, unmade. Piles of laundry sit on it, folded but rumpled. Men's blue-jeans, a t-shirt, a maternity dress. A few pieces are rolled as if for packing. The closet is open, and a suitcase has been half-dragged from under the hanging uniforms on one side. There's space for another bag on top of it, but the bag is missing.

There is a bedroom painted blue, and a rumpled bedspread with a spaceship on it. One shelf is filled with books, the others with toy trucks and plastic dinosaurs and bits and pieces of science kits and beat-up old teddy-bears, all in a jumble. There are brightly colored drawings that may be dogs, or cats, or dinosaurs if one squints just right.

The third bedroom is yellow and smells of fresh paint and expectant readiness AH YES DELICIOUS I LOVE WAKING UP TO THAT SMELL. The carpet is soft. A crib sits against one wall, a mobile over it. There are neatly folded blankets, onesies, and newborn-sized diapers. There's an empty trashcan with a tightly-closing lid. None of the packages have been opened. None of the blankets have been used. They are waiting.

There's still steam on the bathroom windows, and a man's razor next to the sink. There's a toothbrush holder that has just a bit of damp in three of the spaces, but no brushes. There's a towel discarded on the floor, and a dirty police uniform beside the shower. The water hasn't been turned off all the way. There was no time. You're making this point very firmly, don't need this bit.

In the big bedroom a pager buzzes on the desk next to a police badge. There's a safe set into the wall, locked tight. There's a note with the number of the local hospital's maternity ward, and a notepad with the faint indentations that might be left behind when someone writes down directions fast.

The pager buzzes again and then goes quiet. The policeman isn't answering calls from work tonight. Don't need this.

Okay, that's relatively solid in craft, and I kind of like the exacting level of detail though you you could have cut about a third of the things you're describing. The narrator has a reasonably consistent voice though still more editorial than I'd like. But. Nothing happens, which is a weird thing to say about a clearly eventful time in this family's life - but there's a very 'dog bites man' feeling about it. Family was gonna have a baby so it had a baby. Cool? But defintely not a loser, so that's good.

But speaking of dogs and men, let's have another. Missed this at first:

M. Propagandalf posted:

No Respect
308 words

Something is wrong with Master. I counted sun going up and down. Once. Twice. After twice. Master not out. I am hungry too. This is not what the prompt was about. You've got a character, he (she?) is just a dog. So that's a fail straight out of the gate, let's see if you can tell a decent story despite that.

I whine and scrape door. Wait for Master to come out and yell “Shut up!” and hit me with stick. Stick scares me. But I am more scared of no Master. Hitting is not as painful as stomach. Master gives me food. Master is good. Unf. Generic What-if-I-were-a-dog stuff. If you're going to do this at least make it interesting, not a human idea of what a dog is all about. Play with the black and white vision, the richness of smell

But Whiskered Ones bad. One black, one gray. They watch when I get hit and tails go swish-swish. Whiskered Ones rub against Master and get rubbed back. I rub against Master and I get slapped. Why does Master keep them? I want to bite tails off Whiskered Ones. Where are they? Like Master, no show too.

Still no Master out. Did Master leave while I was asleep? I know Master will be very mad if I go inside house. I am not allowed. But food is inside, and hunger is very bad. Sorry Master, but I will enter house.

I find window open, but screen behind. Climb up, push screen, squeeze through, fall in. House has fuzzy floor. Feels nicer than grass. I pee. I like this.

House also has smell. Reminds me of dead Long-Eared One I found before. It was good food. This food too? I follow smell up stairs. Smell is stronger behind part opened door. I push it. Plod, plod.

Found Master. Missing face. Found Whiskered Ones. Eating face.

Whiskered Ones see me. They try to get past. Neck of black one is in my teeth. I shake my head until no more noise from him. Gray one got away, but I will find her. Good simply conveyed action.

I drop Whiskered One and go to Master.

Master, I am sorry for thinking your smell was food. I am not Whiskered One. I am good.

Master.

I lick His hand. I pretend it is warm. Okay, that's kind of sweet, but still very human as a thought. Can dogs pretend?


This was a definite fail because it had a character, and didn't even work that well on its own terms. It had a couple of nice turns of phrase, and then end was sort of sweet, but I was never convinced that I was the dog. Possible loser.

sebmojo fucked around with this message at Sep 9, 2013 around 20:53

Martello
Apr 29, 2012

by XyloJW


Jagermonster posted:

In.

Martello, call that Thunderbrawl between captaintastic and me.

gently caress you i was drinking in a pool for a week and a half













But seriously I'll get that done today. Barbados owns btw

Nikaer Drekin
Oct 11, 2012


THE SPECTACULAR CRABROCK V. FUMBLEMOUSE V. NIKAER DREKIN DUEL FOR THE HONOR OF NOT BEING DISQUALIFIED BEGINS NOW!

Mr. Margulies, Your 2:00 Is Here
(500 Words, Including Title)

Mitch slapped a piece of duct tape over Mr. Margulies's mouth and forced him to sit. “Hey, Kenny,” he said, “could you crack a window? I’m roasting.”

Kenneth unlatched one of the tall panes of glass and swung it out. The breeze came in surprisingly quiet, Kenneth thinking maybe even the wind gets vertigo this far up. “You got the bomb vest on him? I can send the message whenever you’re set.”

“Yep, just a second…” Mitch pressed the center button. A harsh string of chirps emitted from the bulky black vest around Margulies, followed by steady, ominous beeps. “There, done.”

Kenneth lifted his phone and tapped a button. “And the cops have our demands… now. We did it, brother!” He wrapped Mitch in a tight bear hug. “The time’s all set? They have an hour to save the poor sap?”

Mitch grinned. “Yep. If they don’t give in by two o’clock, they’ll be scrubbing this prick out of the linoleum.”

“What do you mean, ‘two o’clock?”

“Two o’clock. The hour after one?”

“I know that, gently caress-head, but it’s almost two now.” Kenneth pulled back his turtleneck sleeve, checked his counterfeit Timex. “Yeah, right, it’s 1:58.”

“Bullshit. My watch says 12:58, and it’s never wrong.”

“You’re sure you didn’t gently caress with it?”

“What? No, of course I didn’t loving gently caress with it. I don’t gently caress around with my watch, Kenny, it’s the one Dad gave me.”

“Okay, well, what about daylight savings? You set it ahead, right?”

Mitch scrunched up his nose. “Oh poo poo, did I?”

“Are you kidding me, Mitch? It’s the middle of spring, man! As in fall back, spring loving forward!”

“Hey, don’t ride me about this. We’ve got one minute until Margulies is a crater, we need to work fast.”

“You can shut it off in time?”

“Nah, that takes too long, we gotta dump him out the window.”

Kenneth stared at Mitch. He wondered how many years they’d take off his sentence if he gave the bastard up.They each grabbed one of Margulies’s shoulders and dragged him forward. He flailed his feet, Italian leather shoes squeaking on the floor. Mitch and Kenneth tried to ignore what they assumed were curses muffled by the duct tape. Kenneth pushed the window all the way open, and the brothers hoisted Margulies onto the brushed metal sill and shoved him out.

He plunged straight down, legs wiggling, until his head bashed into one of the windows and he spun away from the skyscraper. Soon all the brothers could see of him was a speck in an Armani suit. The clock struck two.

A fireball burst from the speck and hung in the air. The violent blast of sound reached the brothers a second later, shattering the windows and knocking them back to the floor.

Kenneth got up weakly and found Mitch unconscious and grimacing. He bent down, yanked the watch from his brother’s wrist, and chucked it out the window-frame.

Didja Redo
Jan 24, 2010

Wanna try my freedom meat BBQ meat?

WEEK 57 RESULTS

Winner: Zack_Gochuck, for Getting It. He sets a clear scene with relevant details and lets it speak for itself. It explains nothing, but says much.

Loser: M. Propagandalf for completely missing the point.

Honourable mention: crabrock

Dishonourable mention: Lord Windy

Crits incoming. Also what the gently caress is it with derelict ships this week.

Fumblemouse
Mar 21, 2013


STANDARD
DEVIANT


Grimey Drawer

THE SPECTACULAR CRABROCK V. FUMBLEMOUSE V. NIKAER DREKIN DUEL FOR THE HONOR OF NOT BEING DISQUALIFIED CONTINUES NOW!

wordcount: 500
The Sound of the Tone


Jenny stared at the smartphone with thinly concealed disappointment. It wasn’t the same thing at all. Still, it was nice of the boys at the phone company to think of her. They must be very busy, programming all the other phones she saw everybody using. All those young people, looking down into tiny screens, almost walking into older ladies on their way to the shops. Imagine being able to be reached anywhere, any time of the day or night. How horrible! What a century this was.

Jenny poked at the screen with her finger, but nothing happened. Not for the first time that day, she wished Bill were here to help her, but then she recalled what the young man had said, and pushed the inset button at the bottom. The screen sprang to life, showing a large digital clock with several icons below. “Well, this isn’t so hard,” she said. She squinted at the tiny characters beneath various icons but her eyesight wasn’t quite good enough. She spotted a picture of an alarm clock with a smiling cartoon mouth. That must be the one. She tentatively pressed it.

A picture of Bill appeared on the screen - the same one she had sent to the phone company. How clever! Beneath the photo was a single button labelled ‘Speak’. With a gesture that almost seemed confident, she jabbed at it.

“At the sound of the tone, the time will be … three … minutes past … twelve ...am,” said the smartphone in Bill’s voice. “Beeeeeep!”

It wasn’t right. That couldn’t be my Bill in that tiny box. When she’d called the speaking clock, sitting in her armchair, cup of tea beside her, it had been easy to imagine him at the other end of the phone, hard at work informing people of the time in his wonderful, mellifluous tones. Now he sounded tinny, like a cheap radio, and for the first time in ten years he’d gotten the time wrong. Jenny felt a tightness in her temples and pressed the X at the top right of Bill’s photo. The digital clock and the icons returned. That clock was wrong too.

Jenny blinked, took a deep breath, and told herself not to be so silly. Bill would have loved this sort of thing, and so would she. She started touching anything that looked like it might help, until she found her way to the clock settings and deciphered their arrows. Then she made a cup of tea, sat in her armchair and dialled the speaking clock. Bill let her know the correct time, and she adjusted the phone accordingly. A stranger’s voice informed her that the service would be ending tomorrow after fifty years.

She returned to Bill’s photo and pressed Speak. Bill's voice came back to her, tinny but right. She placed the phone with Bill inside in her coat pocket next to her heart. Imagine being able to hear him anywhere, day or night. What a century this is!

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.


This past prompt was tough as hell, but a welcome change.

Lord Windy
Mar 26, 2010


I don't get it. I'm sorry Zach, but his was just as bad as everyone elses. At first I thought this prompt was going to be fun. But all it produced was a pile of wank.

Didja, can you please explain what you wanted to see or how you would have gone about it?

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk

Lord Windy posted:

I don't get it. I'm sorry Zach, but his was just as bad as everyone elses. At first I thought this prompt was going to be fun. But all it produced was a pile of wank.

Didja, can you please explain what you wanted to see or how you would have gone about it?

Take it to Fiction Farm.

Lord Windy
Mar 26, 2010


sebmojo posted:

Take it to Fiction Farm.

I'm asking about the prompt, not a crit on my piece.

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crabrock
Aug 2, 2002

aka sticklegs



Grimey Drawer

THE SPECTACULAR CRABROCK V. FUMBLEMOUSE V. NIKAER DREKIN DUEL FOR THE HONOR OF NOT BEING DISQUALIFIED COMES TO A THRILLING CONCLUSION!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CLOCK

Goalposts (495 words)

Gerald yawned for the first time in two days. The hallucinations meant it was time to sleep. Exhaustion hit like a divorce: all at once and out of nowhere. He pulled back the curtains and squinted in the morning sun.

She bounded down the stairs, backpack already on and hair in pigtails. Gerald looked at his reflection in an old family photo on the wall. His oily hair was matted to his forehead.

“Are you coming to my play today, daddy?”

Gerald held onto the wall to steady himself; she seemed to grow and shrink with every syllable.

“Thought that was Thursday.”

“Today is Thursday!”

She wrinkled her brow in an adorable fashion. Three days--not two--since he’d slept.

“Of course I’m coming.”

She hugged him and then floated away in a bus. Her play was after lunch; he could make it.

Gerald dumped coffee into the filter--it didn’t matter how much. His hands trembled.

His ex-wife sat beneath the picture frame.

“You’re not making it right.”

“I know!” Don’t talk to her, she’s not real.

“You won’t make it. You could never be there for either of us.”

The sputter of the coffee maker drowned out her voice. Gerald splashed his face with cold water. He toweled off his face, and felt something linger. A spider. He [smacked] at it, sending the black creeper flying across the counter. It was a raisin.

“You’re not fooling either of us. Go to sleep.”

“Shut up!” He threw the wet towel at the picture, knocking it askew. The apparition of his ex-wife looked askance at the crooked frame. “Well that was useful.”

Gerald poured himself a cup of coffee and took a sip, even though it was too hot. He stayed active, ignoring most of his ex-wife’s haruanging. He made three pots of coffee--never measuring out the grounds. After his shower, his ex-wife laid on bed.

“Just lay down for a moment with me. We always had fun.”

Gerald shook his head and struggled with his buttons. Each felt like trying to shove a dinner plate through the eye of a needle. Trying to shove the key into his car’s ignition made him feel like he was manipulating a marionette.

Lights of all colors swirled and blended together as he drove. Red and green, red and blue, purple polka dots. Sirens, airbrakes, jackhammers, elephants and hyenas. He pulled into Abigail’s school.

He took a seat in the auditorium. His ex-wife sat down next to him.

“I’m surprised you remembered.”

The lights dimmed and the seat was comfortable. The hallucinations and the actual absurdities of elementary theater were impossible to differentiate. His daughter was a pineapple, or a shrubbery, or a slow-motion explosion.

He was sipping a colada on the beach. A piece of pineapple stuck on the rim of the glass. The waves thundered like applause. His wife laid on the sand in a bikini. She looked up at him and smiled.

“It’s about time you woke up.”

edit: included [smacked] because I'm not sure how the gently caress that got deleted out.

crabrock fucked around with this message at Sep 10, 2013 around 00:56

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