So yea. I'm gonna have to pull out this week. I haven't written a word yet
I'll do another round of crits as penance.
Mercedes fucked around with this message at 17:34 on Aug 18, 2013
|# ? Aug 18, 2013 17:30|
|# ? Sep 27, 2021 17:06|
Exams were over. Christmas was coming. Nothing suggested to Crusader Christian Fellowship that anything but holiday cheer was headed their way.
In the after-school hours of the college auditorium, the fellowship of twenty-seven broke out in rousing singspiration. After Max the worship leader finished with the opening prayer, there was an awkward moment of silence as everyone waited for Tobias the fellowship director to begin Bible study. He wasn’t in the room. Just as Vince volunteered to call and check on him, Tobias plodded in, his head hung low. Jane walked up to Tobias and placed her hands on his shoulders, to no effect. His eyes remained fixed to the floor for some time before he looked up and addressed the fellowship.
“Brothers and sisters, I have sad news. As you all know, ‘Cookies and Caroling’ has been a Crusader tradition since our founding, and Antioch College has always warmed to the reminder of what Christmas is really about. Last year however, a complaint was filed to the Club Director. Apparently… someone was offended by it.”
“Offended by what?” guffawed Rick, “Sue’s singing? Or Todd’s baking?”
“This is no laughing matter, Rick. This… individual sent a letter to the Club Director accusing us of imposing our faith upon her through our ‘religious propaganda’.”
Several cries of “What!?” and a “no way!” were uttered.
“Now because this involved last year’s Christmas, the club union postponed ruling on it, almost forgetting about it altogether. But with Christmas upon us, the issue came back to light and reintroduced for deliberation.”
Tobias looked to the ceiling before letting out a heavy breath.
“We’re not approved for ‘Cookies and Caroling’ this Christmas."
The fellowship erupted.
“What is this world coming to?”
"This is horsesh— poop."
Tobias raised his hands.
“Everyone please settle down!”
“We already bought all the ingredients for our baking,” sniveled Gwen, “what are we supposed to do with them now?”
“We can still bake and share cookies around campus. However, under no circumstance are the cookies to be shaped or decorated in any way suggestive of a scene or character from the Nativity.”
The fellowship erupted once more, before a composed voice silenced everyone.
“There is no darn way that anyone dictates how I make cookies for God.”
All eyes turned to Mallory. She looked at Tobias with a determined stare.
“No one’s dictating anyone’s cookies,” Tobias assured, “I negotiated with the club union and we can still make Nativity cookies however we want—”
“But no nuts?”
“—Right. Steve. We can make Nativity cookies. Nutless. But if we do, we’ll only be allowed to be eat them here.”
Everyone but Mallory groaned.
“No, no, no! We can still make it work! In fact, I think this will encourage us to invite people to the auditorium this year. We’ll still be able to share songs and cookies!”
“How would that make it work?” argued Mallory, “the point of ‘Cookies and Caroling’ is to be out proclaiming the good news. We’re not doing that if we’re caged in here. It goes against everything we stand for as Crusaders for Christ!”
“Mallory, I know you’re upset. We all are. But sometimes, we have to make sacrifices.”
“No. We make sacrifices for Christ, not against Him. Especially not on His birthday.”
“Well actually,” mused Steve, “most scholars think that Jesus was most likely born between Mar—”
Mallory silenced Steve with a glare. She turned back to Tobias.
“This is God’s holiday we’re talking about. His holy day. How can you let Crusader Christian Fellowship be shoved around like this?”
“I’m not letting them shove us. I tried reasoning with the union, and I prayed really hard that they would make the right choice.”
“I don’t doubt that you prayed, but you have to remember: prayer without action is meaningless. I mean, seriously, you nearly let the Muslim Association pressure us into changing our name this summer. A name we’ve had for over twenty years!”
“I… I was trying to be conciliatory.”
“You almost wiped out our identity.”
No one talked for a moment. Jill broke the silence, coughing lightly before speaking.
“Mallory… what do you suggest we do instead?”
“Forget what the union says,” Mallory replied firmly, “we go on with ‘Cookies and Caroling’.”
Anxious murmurs filled the room.
“If we do that,” Tobias warned, “we could lose our club status.”
“T-That would mean losing our monthly stipend. We’d also lose permission to hold fellowship anywhere on campus.”
“‘Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s’,” replied Mallory, “What did we learn from the China documentary? Is Christianity happening in the government sanctioned churches? No! It’s happening in hidden, dank basements. In rooms a tenth the size of this one, crammed with fifty people or more. Ask yourselves: does Crusader Christian Fellowship depend on club unions, or on God?”
The question prompted some nods of approval, while a few rubbed their chins. Others frowned.
“Don’t you think this is rather extreme?” ventured Liz, “it’s just songs and cookies after all…”
“It’s not just songs and cookies,” voiced Jeff, “it’s ‘Cookies and Caroling’ for God. And I think Mallory is onto something. Think about what’s happened this past year: our Good Friday display was cancelled because it featured ‘too much blood’. Did the club union listen to us when we voiced our concerns about the Halloween rave? And now this! We need to show everyone that no matter what we face, the only thing we fear is God.”
“Jeff, please don’t imply that the campus is out to persecute us.”
“Oh I’m not implying it. Unless you’re blind, the evidence speaks for itself.”
The fellowship broke down in argument as people talked over one another. Tobias stood mortified, unable to say anything. He raised his hands, trying to get everyone’s attention. Only one person noticed.
Everyone did. All eyes turned to Mallory again.
“The fellowship director has something tell us.”
“Yes, er, thank you, Mallory. This is obviously an issue that we feel very strongly about. Because our emotions are running high, let’s wait until the end of the day before we pray on it.”
“We need to pray,” replied Mallory, “but we need act as well, and fast. Please tell everyone what you intend Crusader Christian Fellowship do for this Christmas”
“I… I don’t know yet.”
“Toby, we really need someone who does know. I know this has been really stressful for you, so maybe it’s best if someone else take over as director, at least for this month. How does that sound?”
Tobias looked to the floor.
“Sure. I guess that works.”
“Alright. Hands up all in favour?”
Tobias couldn’t bring himself to see the hands that went up.
“Then it’s settled. We’ll vote for an interim fellowship director for this Wednesday’s meeting. Vince, make sure you e-mail everyone who’s not here today about it. Toby?”
Tobias lifted his eyes.
“Let’s get started on today’s Bible study!”
Sonuvabitch, missed one word that I wanted italicized. Hence the post fuckery[/edit]
M. Propagandalf fucked around with this message at 18:46 on Aug 18, 2013
|# ? Aug 18, 2013 18:40|
This is dumb and bad but I had fun writing it so I'm not sorry.
Patience, AZ--1173 Words
"I hate this town," Mickey McKane said to everyone, all up and down the wide black boulevard of Patience, Arizona's main street, which was no one. He skipped out of the shadow of the town hall, all decked up like Roman temple, and spun around to face the Mayor's statue, seated in a throne ten feet tall. "And I can't wait to see you gone."
The statue looked down upon him, a sneer on her marbled face and a lightning bolt raised in one hand. "Janet Leery, Mayor of Mayors," the tablet in her hands read, held tight against one breast of her ceremonial gown while the other was bare, in the style of ancient Rome or Sumeria or Qarth or something. Somehow she'd managed to talk that past the smoldering Lutherans and the outraged Catholics, but she wouldn't be able to talk past this.
Mickey thrust the sheaf of papers into the big open cloudless sky. Soon his sky would be filled. With buildings. Because he'd be somewhere else. When Mickey published this story, he could say goodbye to the Patience Monitor! He'd be working at the New York Post! Maybe even the Washington Times!
With copious bribes of chewing gum and unmarked two dollar bills he'd managed to secure from the mayor's aide a copy of the Mesa Flats Mass Transit Project. Leery's pet project, rammed through the noodle-spined town council in a single session despite its ridiculous price, no one knew quite what it was. Rumors swirled, from an airport to a train yard all the way up to a marina on the shore of the Niobraran Sea National Park, despite the fact that the Niobraran Sea had been a desert since the end of the dinosaurs.
Whatever it was, Mickey had been certain the Mayor was bullshitting the taxpayers--and even himself!--and was going to drag it to light. Fanning himself, he found a table at a nearby coffee shop, sat beneath an awning and began to read. Slowly his smile dimmed, like a dying star, until it finally collapsed into a black hole of a frown.
"I hate this town," he mutterered to himself. He licked his thumb, stuck it in the air and felt nothing. "A wind train? What the hell is a wind train?" He flipped through the plans and stared at the diagram, sails like old galleons towering above little train cars while stick figures scrambled in the rigging. In the margins someone had doodled in another, falling from the very top, and added "90 ft--probably not always fatal!!" as a point in the plan's favor.
Mickey stared, dumbstruck. A gust of wind sent the pages flapping, and when they settled they were on a proposed schedule. "It's almost done," he moaned. "They finish laying track today--" He sat up. "And the Mayor inspects today."
He had a plan together by the time he hit Patience city limits. The trailer park grew like a fungal growth from a rotting log and smelled about as lovely, but, much like certain fungi, it contained things vital to Western civilization. Things like Wess Oakey.
Patience lore held that Wess Oakey had arrived out of the largest sandstorm the town had ever seen, with a rifle slung over his back, a month's beard on his face, and an unidentifiable accent on his tongue, asking where he could re-enlist for the New Gasden Republic. Common sense held that he was just Orkney West returned from trying to flee his embarrassingly awful name, his Scottish accent slipping and his brain addled after his long solo sojourn. Either way he had re-settled into Orkney's old trailer and returned to Orkney's old profession--that is, slinging meth, and then sinking his profits into whatever weaponry and explosives he could make or buy.
"Wess!" Mickey pounded on the trailer door. "Wess! I've got a--"
The door opened and a monster of plastic and canvas poked its head out, Wess' face barely visible beneath. Thick white smoke billowed out behind him. "What?"
Mickey waved away the smoke and wiped tears from his eyes. "I need a favor."
"Don't breathe the smoke or you'll drop dead," Wess said, slamming the door.
"Wess!" Mickey called. "I want to take down the Mayor! With explosions!"
Wess was back out the door in real clothes in an instant, a rifle over his shoulder and a brick in his hands. "What's that?" Mickey asked, poking it through the wax paper.
Mickey nodded, pretending to be sage, and backed away. "I see."
They discussed the plan as they went and had it hammered out by the time they hit what was left of Mesa Flats. Wess slunk off to plant his half of the explosive while Mickey went to find the Mayor.
She stood with her back to him, Mayor's tricorner and cape hiding her form and instantly marking her while she walked the deck of her private car. Gordonson smacked his lips and chewed his gum and pointed to Mickey. She turned with a whirl and her eyes narrowed when she saw him. "McKane," she said.
"Leery," he hissed. "I found out about your plan!" He pointed to the sail-train. "Make this, watch it fail and then pocket the shortfall!"
Leery laughed, airy and contemptuous, and she kicked down the hold door. "But did you know about the gold?! The gold we pulled from Mesa Flats?"
It was piled in glittering ingots from floor to ceiling. "No, I didn't," Mickey admitted, rubbing the back of his neck. He jabbed a finger at her and kicked a rope loose, rising with it to the foremast. "But I'm still putting you under citizen's arrest!" Behind him the sails fluttered in the wind and the car jerked into motion.
The Mayor scoffed. "Gordonson, set course for Vegas," she ordered, and drew her Mayor's sword. "I'll see to this citizen." She climbed, sword in her teeth, and stood nimbly on the balls of her feet. "I've wanted to do this since grade school!" She crowed, jabbing at him while the ground lurched by, dozens of feet below.
Mickey found a rope and ascended. "What, since you tried to give me cooties?"
Leery's mouth twisted into a snarl and she slashed some of the rigging, blowing a sail before them. Far below Mickey saw a figure run from the tracks, and then they exploded, and the car was derailed. For a moment he thought it would slow to a stop, and then the wind turned and he felt the car lurch and tip and fall.
He woke up with dust in his eyes. He could hear the Mayor shouting for Gordonson to deploy the life-pushcart and saw Wess coming for him while the sail-car burned. He pulled him to his feet and dusted him off.
The Mayor was receding into the distance, bound for Vegas. "That was dumb," Wess said.
Mickey shrugged. "At least we have the gold."
Wess bit a chunk and winced. "It's pyrite. Fool's gold."
Mickey's shoulders sagged. "I won't even say it."
|# ? Aug 18, 2013 20:14|
Let Rushing Dogs Lie (1098 words)
“You want us to import dogs.”
Comrade Mayor Anatoly frowned at me. The other members of the town committee began to shout, at me and at each other.
“Yes,” I replied, “I am so greatly talented that I have caught every feral dog in the town. It would be a crime to let my prodigious talent to go waste.”
The Comrade Mayor struck the table, silencing the idiot committee members as they questioned my skills.
“Alexei my brother, your talent is legendary,” said Anatoly, “but I can see that the other, less learned, members of the committee are not convinced.”
I looked around. There was fat Victor, spotty Boris and ugly Mikhail. Skeletal Pavel and Pytor, who was more scab than skin. Dmitry’s boils were effervescing in a particularly foul manner. Each of these unfortunate men gaped at me as I stood before them, my bronze skin shining in the sun.
A slow stream of drool flowed from the side of Victor’s slack mouth. It was clear they could not comprehend the brilliance of my idea.
Your uncle Anatoly is a wise man, my son. He has guided our town of Rassgart through many hardships, and I have always been by his side. I could not say that I have been instrumental in his success, but he has always received advice from his older brother. So it was shocking that at this point, when I’m sure you would expect Anatoly to come to my aid in front of these imbeciles (as he has before), he did not tell the committee that I was correct.
It was clear that I would have to tell them a story of my dog catching prowess.
“I shall tell you a story of my dog catching prowess!” I said, leaping onto the table in a single bound. “Have I ever told you learned men of the Matryoshka Dogs?”
Now my boy, you must always remember that men like to be flattered. They like to think that they are somehow greater than they truly are, that their station is somehow higher than it is. Of course in this most excellent society which Stalin has forged for us we are all equal. Even so if you wish to convince a man of your point of view it does no harm to remind him what an excellent and clever man he is.
“The Matryoshka Dogs,” I cried (Pavel had fallen asleep since my leap: his age makes him very frail, he awoke with a wheeze), “were, in actuality only one dog, at the start. A young comrade had begged me to visit her, to save her from a terrible dog that terrorized her and her tiny babushka.
“When I arrived the grandmother was visiting the market, and the beautiful Lilya invited me inside.”
Her large blue eyes and blonde hair captivated me, and I could tell that she admired my strong outdoorsman’s body. Of course since your mother left us I have barely looked at a woman, but it is not a crime to notice these things.
“Suddenly we heard a fantastic roar. There, at the threshold of the door, a gigantic hound crouched, ready to strike. Its head was the size of a horse's, with horrible teeth it swung left and right, and as it scraped at the flags sparks were sent flying.”
When the committee heard this they shrunk back in fear; they were a cowardly lot. Indeed Dmitry screwed his eyes shut, causing one of his boils to burst allowing stinking pus to issue forth, and reminding me of the hound’s breath.
“The hound’s breath,” I whispered, drawing them towards me in excitement and fear “smelt like a capitalist’s rotting morality!” They muttered, as we all know capitalists stink due to the evils they beset upon the proletariat.
“I was not discouraged, and leapt at the beast, striking it on the nose. Faced with such a superior manner of man the monster realised the futility of fighting, and ran, and I gave chase. I soon caught it, leaping upon it and wrestling it, subduing it and mastering it.” I grasped Boris by the shoulders, trying to impress upon him the seriousness of the situation.
“No sooner had I tied up the beast a horrible and terrible occurrence occurred.” I spun around and pointed at Pytor as one of his scabs drifted to the table.
“The beast shed its skin. If left its bindings behind, and it leapt away.”
The idiots of the committee, with their small minds, could not comprehend that a dog could shed its skin as readily as a snake, but it is true. They snorted and snickered, like pigs at trough, but I was resolute before them.
“It was then that I realised I was in pursuit of the Matryoshka dog. It is well known among those of my esteemed profession that these terrible beasts are among us, and only one such as I could ever hope to capture it.”
I continued with the tale as the committee muttered.
“I leapt after the monster, no longer the size of a horse, merely a mule of a dog. It would be no match for my legendary strength. It led me on a chase through the town, past the old men who drink vodka on their stools. They might have thought I was drunk as well: as as I chased the damned dog the size of a mule I screamed at it, to scare it into making a wrong turn, some mistake that would allow me to capture it.
“With a superhuman stretch I grasped the dog by its hind leg, but again the skin and fur came away in my hand. The dog that raced away before me was the size of a calf.
“I chased the hound through the day, then through the night. I pursued it through the rain, then the blistering heat of summer. It became steadily smaller, once it resembled a pig, a cat, a mouse.
The committee were enthralled, their mouths agape, a small stream of drool flowed from Victor’s slack mouth. But their amazement was further increased when I opened my palm. There in my hand was the Matryoshka dog, the size of a bluefly. And this, my dear boy, is when your uncle, who had given me my job as a dog catcher, trusting me when others had thought I was but a drunk, betrayed me.
“Alexei,” said Anatoly, that snake, “that is fly.”
And that, my son, is why I have lost my job as the dog catcher of Rassgart.
|# ? Aug 18, 2013 22:34|
kind of racist kind of misogynist but you know, probably not such a bad guy really if you got to know him. actually wait - Word Count: 738
god im loving sick of these rush hour trains, im really- oh look a seat, sweet. “Priority Seat - Please offer this seat to those less able to stand”? nah, dont think so, im on this fucker for like thirty stops drat i wish i had brought my shades why is it so bright
actually its kind of nice
jesus what is with shuffle on this piece of poo poo theres only so many times i can handle dnb at 7am, maybe i should make a playlist
underground in 3...2...1....½....0, volume up ow down, be nice if they made these things quieter oh god another reason to bring shades i can see my weird reflection in that curved window drat i need a shave and some more sleep stupid cat
im pretty sure i can tell how smart people are just by looking at their eyes and most of these people are thick as hell i could really do with a cigarette these patches dont even work i swear
ah man she is fine bare legs and boots so hot too bad ellie never wears em maybe I should ask or would that be weird hey she has a book as well, thats kinda - oh its just some airport drivel nevermind. that guy looks like such a douche wearing beats i really loving hate that, loving racket worse than apple, instead of music they should just shout douchebagdouchbagdouchebag full volume in your ear.
did that fat bitch just press the open button on the door; must be a tourist. why do they even have those buttons if they dont even work- wonder if they ever worked like in the 80s or something
great more goddamn people not like it isnt already boiling in here cant even take my jacket off; dont stare at me like you old bag you aint getting this seat; wish those cunts would stop loving babbling in whatever language that is so irritating can hear it over my music -stupidthumbwheelonthisthinglousy- are all the old people staring at me because they can hear the music or because theyre senile seriously its so loving hypocritical they always say its rude to stare then who loving stares the most? goddamn old people like gormless morons its not like im gonna get up and steal your wallet
woah. that guy doesnt look shifty no not at all. why is he looking around like that jesus i can see his eyes are bloodshot from here dude looks half crazy
what the hell is that in his hand he keeps fiddling with; looks like some kind of remote or something
christ is that a wire running up his sleeve
and hes got a massive backpack too
oh god no way
im overreacting, theres no loving way; ive got to get off this train; dont press that button christ theres children on this train maybe hell chicken out if he looks this way ill smile at him might buy some time or make him feel too guilty
jesus cmon this train is so slow maybe i have to over there and stand by the door try grab the remote if he tries; so loving stupid but if i dont
sweating like mad jesus, christ, maybe if i stand in the very corner might be safer theres a little perspex wall and a bunch of people, if it explodes
next station hyde park corner? doesnt matter dont care if im late better safe than dead
can feel my heartbeat in my head let me off let me off let me off; poo poo; poo poo; thank gently caress
i need to sit down calm down should i like call someone or something but what if im wrong ill look like a retard; if, if it does happen then nobody would know that i knew, theyd be like wow why did you get off the train at the wrong stop and id just say i just had this strange feeling y’know - people would kind of respect that be a bit impressed id have a bit of a story to tell
oh poo poo that guy there, is he holding the same- what if its a multiple strike like 7/7 what if- wait gently caress is that the loving new ipod shuffle?
Enjoy my crude, unedited and pretentious impression of what stream of consciousness might be like without ever having read any. People don't think with apostrophes or capital letters - but they do think with semi-colons and commas for some reason.
|# ? Aug 19, 2013 00:00|
Tell me a story of intrigue of a small, localized place. I don't want grandiose, worldwide illuminati bullshit. I want a story dealing with these kind of situations. Is it a stenographer who has to frantically dictate the minutes of a blithering, clearly insane, public commentary? Is it a story about a backstabbing local politician who will throw anyone under the bus just to be a state assemblyman? Are you a bored journalist sitting at a parks and rec budget committee meeting?
The Dogs of Love and War
Alexei Sayle tugged the leash, half-dragging the stubborn Cane Corso bitch through the front doors of the Rassgart Animal Shelter. The big black dog wasn't agressive, she just didn't like being yanked around. Alexei didn't blame her, but it was his job, wasn't it?
Lillian smiled up at him from the front desk. "Hey Alexei." She leaned over and looked at the Cane Corso. "Nice catch. She's a beautiful dog, isn't she?"
"Yup," Alexei said. He resisted the urge to reach out and run his fingers through Lillian's curly red hair. "Let's hope someone comes for her, wouldn't want such a pretty baby to end up with the needle."
"I know." Lillian shook her head. "We just put down that shepherd/lab mix this morning, the one you caught at the high school last month."
"Aw man," Alexei said. "He was such a sweetheart too." He patted the Corso on the head. "Well, bringin' this girl in."
"Ok. Put her in..." Lillian flipped through a chart. "Cage 6."
"Thanks." Alexei and Lillian smiled at each other for the minute it took Alexei to decide he didn't have the courage to ask her how her weekend went, and would she maybe want dinner on Saturday night? He gave her a weak little wave, and coaxed the black dog down the hallway and into Cage 6. She whined at him, looking up with those big brown eyes. "It's okay girl, someone will come for you." Alexei pushed his fingers through the bars and touched her nose. She backed away, circled around the cage a few times, and lay down on the ragged fleece blanket.
Alexei turned to walk back to the front desk and watched Rick Mason lead a scruffy brown mutt to Cage 2. The dog was heeling him perfectly, even though the animal looked like it had never seen the inside of a house let alone an obedience school. Rick knelt beside the cage and whispered to the mutt before opening the door. The dog looked up at Rick, made a little huffing sound, and walked inside. He immediately curled up on the stained pillow bed and put his head on his paws. Rick stood and grinned at Alexei.
"Hey buddy, how're you?" He extended a ham-sized hand on the end of a muscular, veiny forearm. Alexei shook it, and pulled his hand back with at least one uncrushed bone.
"Doing alright, you?"
"Oh, you know, I'm always good." Rick showed Alexei those perfect white teeth again. "Finished first in the county triathlon last weekend."
"Congratulations," Alexei said. He tried not to grit his teeth.
"Yeah did Lillian show you any photos?" Rick gestured down the hallway. "She was there at the finish line waiting for me."
Alexei's stomach flopped like a beached catfish. "Oh." He forced a smile. "No, no she didn't show me any. I'll have to, I'll ask her to."
Rick's brow furrowed and his blue eyes went soft. "You alright buddy? Look like you saw a ghost."
"I'm fine." Alexei rubbed his stomach. "Must have eaten something bad, my gut's acting up." He patted one of Rick's huge shoulders. "I'll see you around, okay Rick?"
"See ya," Rick said, those straight white teeth gleaming again. Alexei walked right by Lillian without saying anything, but her voice stopped him.
"Hey Alexei? Mr. Goddard wants to see you."
Alexei turned around and looked at Lillian. Pretty smile, round face, big curves, maybe twenty pounds overweight. Alexei couldn't hope to do much better than her with his own crooked teeth, acne scars, and weak chin. But Rick? Why did he have to slum with a girl like Lillian when he could be with any woman in Rassgart?
He swallowed. "Okay. Do you know what about?" His stomach was roiling now.
"Not sure." Her eyebrows went up. "You okay? You look pale."
"He said he thinks he ate something bad," Rick said. He was standing behind Lillian, his hands on her shoulders. "You might want to ask Goddard if you can go home early."
"Yeah. Yeah, maybe I will." Alexei stomped left, to the short hallway that led to the break room and Mr. Goddard's office.
"Alex." Goddard waved him to a chair. "How you doing today?” The Director of Rassgart Animal Shelter leaned back in his leather deskchair, fingers laced over his polyester-clad gut.
“I’m, uh, I’m fine Mr. Goddard.” Alexei smiled, and it felt more like a grimace. “How are you?”
“Great.” Goddard put his palms flat on the desk and wiggled his bushy black brows, the way he always did before he said something Alexei didn’t want to hear. “Look, Alex, there’s no easy way to say this. With budgets shrinking across the whole county, the bosses at City Hall are telling me we don’t need two dog catchers anymore.”
“We, we call ourselves animal control officers now.” Alexei said. “Sir.”
“Sure, sure. Look kid, I’m too old to play the PC word game. Point is, either you or Rick are gonna have to go.”
“Mr. Goddard, Rassgart has a serious animal problem and we really need both of us, I-”
Goddard put up his hand. “It’s a done deal. And Rick’s quota is way above yours. Last month you brought in ten animals. Six of them had to be euthanized. Rick, on the other hand,” Goddard consulted a printout. “Rick brought in seventeen, and we only had to put down three.”
“But how is it my fault if people don’t adopt the dogs and cats I bring in?”
Goddard shrugged. “Rick networks. He takes photos of his animals and shows them to friends. He’s a very social person.”
“I know,” Alexei said. “He’s a loving triathlete, volunteers at the soup kitchen, attends benefit concerts, et cetera and loving so on. He’s a goddamn angel, a Greek god.”
Goddard squinted. “Kid, I have no idea what you’re going on about. Point is, by the end of this month I have to make a decision. You have three weeks, Alex. Pass Rick’s quota or you’re out.”
“I understand.” Alexei stood up. “I guess I better get back out on the street, huh?”
“Yup.” Goddard leaned across his desk. “You look like poo poo warmed over right now, you know that?”
“So I’ve been told. Thanks for giving me the straight word, Mr. Goddard.”
“Sorry kid.” Goddard stood up to shake Alexei’s hand. “I genuinely like you, you know that? It’s just politics.”
Later on that night, Alexei drove his six year-old Dodge minivan through Ivy Heights. One of Rassgart’s nicer neighborhoods, a lot of big backyards. A lot of dogs. And a lot of unlocked gates. Alexei rolled past a white ranch-style at five miles per hour. Two labs barked at him under a floodlight, pushing noses through a chain-link fence.
Alexei smiled. He’d bring that quota up, leave Rick in the dust. Maybe with Rick gone, he’d have a chance at Lillian.
Alexei wasn’t going anywhere.
Martello fucked around with this message at 14:51 on Aug 19, 2013
|# ? Aug 19, 2013 00:50|
Sleeping Dogs Lie
Each new day hit Tiffany like a storm swell, drowning her in deadlines. Every time she came up for air, another assignment pushed her back under.
A hold was placed on her University account: See Advisor.
“Despite your performance, you’re still eligible to graduate next semester,” said her advisor. The only picture in his office was of himself.
“Unfortunately placement for municipal internships is based on class rank. I will remove the hold, but I don’t want to see you in here again. Enjoy your break.”
Next Spring, Tiffany reported to Rassgart Town Hall to meet with the public liaison. The two worst placements went to the two worst students. Jojo, a girl Tiffany had always assumed was borderline retarded, was also there.
The mayor acted like he had watched a video of how a mayor should act. He had a homemade flag button on his lapel, a plastic yellow clipboard, and a blue mark on his lip.
“So you two want to be fancy Washington politicians,” said the mayor. “Passing laws you’ll never live by, cutting funding to programs you’ll never use.”
He put the pen up to his mouth as if he was going to mull over what to say next, but didn’t remove it when he talked. As his lips moved up and down the blue mark darkened.
“That’s not how we do things in Rassgart. Jojo, you’ll shadow me for eight weeks. Tiffany, you’ll be with Alexei Sayle. He’s expecting you.”
His office was a cabin on the edge of town. The kennels were immaculate and empty.
Alexei wore blue overalls and had a cigarette tucked behind his ear. His face was shadowed in that way that makes it difficult to determine if it is dirty or unshaven.
“This is the man cave,” he said, leaning back in his leather chair. “But my real office is out there.”
Alexei’s truck didn’t smell like dogs. “How many dogs do you catch a day?” asked Tiffany.
“I’m more of a contingency plan,” he said. “Rabies liability and everything.”
They parked near a trail head. Several joggers went by, but no dogs.
“What do I do for eight weeks?”
“I don’t know; I’ve never had a polysci intern. Economics, sure.”
“Is this even a political position?”
“I’m appointed by the mayor. Everybody wants this job. Truth is, I’m hoping to upgrade. I want the mayor’s job. But don’t tell him, alright?”
“You give me an A, and I’ll do anything.”
“So you’re in college?”
“You learn a lot of techniques in class?” he asked. “Like for winning elections?”
“We cover basic campaign management.”
“If you could help me be mayor, I’d give you an A for sure.”
Tiffany eyed the pole with the loop at the end hanging on the wall.
Alexei’s face turned red. “But the mayor can’t know.”
“Yeah, I think we studied keeping secrets.”
Alexei looked like a kid that had found his Christmas presents three weeks early. “Do you think we should make some posters?” he asked.
“Won’t that alert the mayor?”
He smacked himself in the head. “Stupid Sayle. Stupid!”
Tiffany put her hand over his on the steering wheel. “Look,” she said, “Our first priority is getting you out there so the townspeople can get to know you. You’re going to buy a big box of dog treats, and you’re going to the dog park.”
Tiffany signed her timesheet for 4:30 and went home to study for her Ethics midterm. The next morning she brought iced coffees to Alexei’s office.
“Rule number one of campaigns: Never run on empty,” she said.
She heard a yelp from the kennels. “Is that--” she said.
“It’s not my fault,” moaned Alexei. “I went to the dog park like you said, and the little one, it just kept barking and barking.”
He pulled up his pant leg and there was a tiny set of parentheses on his calf.
Tiffany winced at the bruise. “I’ll handle this,” she said. She retrieved the dog’s collar and called his owner.
“Mrs. Baker will be coming to pick up Woofles, and pay the fine,” said Tiffany. “This is a good thing. Shows people you uphold the law.”
Alexei flopped into his chair and exhaled for too long.
“Today you’re going to go to the beach and remind everybody with a dog that the Mayor passed an ordinance banning dogs at the beach,” she said.
“And then I bring the dogs in?”
“You give them a warning and let them know that you personally disagree with him, and would repeal it,” she said.
“What if they don’t have a dog?”
“Then you tell them the Mayor has told you not to enforce the no-dog policy.”
Tiffany’s iPhone chirped.
Tiffany signed her timesheet for 4:30 and drove to L'fourrière French Bistro for a cobb salad, and then retired to her room to complete a take-home exam.
A noise of a dozen barking dogs filled the office. Alexei was slumped over his desk, laying on a pile of papers.
“Coffee. I need coffee,” he said without looking up.
He guzzled the frappachino Tiffany brought. She sipped hers through a straw so she wouldn’t stain her teeth.
“It’s too much: getting bit, filling out paperwork for the dogs, collecting secret signatures, remembering what my horoscope said, remembering to buy a lottery ticket after work, trying to get my water turned back on at home.”
“What did your horoscope say?”
Tiffany rooted through her purse and pulled out an orange vial. “I was like you once,” she said. “You just need a little help.”
“What is it?”
He held out his hand.
“But it’s expensive. Five dollars a pill.”
“It’ll help me get through this?”
“You’ll have the concentration to do all of this and more. Trust me.”
Alexei pulled out his wallet and gave her a five.
She tapped lightly on the edge of the bottle until one Adderall slid out into his sweaty palm.
In an hour they had the office cleaned, the paperwork done, and people had started to arrive to claim their dogs.
Tiffany clocked out at 4:30 every day. Alexei spent five, ten or sometimes fifteen dollars a pop.
On her last day, she picked up her certificate signed by the mayor.
“I hope your internship was fulfilling,” said the mayor.
“Class tells us about politics, but Rassgart has shown me what it takes to succeed,” said Tiffany.
She shook the mayor’s hand. Alexei’s hands shook independently. He looked like he was trying to speak, but couldn’t get his throat to make sound.
Tiffany walked out with of the Town Hall with Jojo. “I think that old man is going to be sick,” said Jojo, eyeing Alexei through the window.
“He’ll be ok,” said Tiffany. “His job is safe as long as the mayor is in charge, and he’s not up for election for another two years.”
|# ? Aug 19, 2013 01:01|
Flash Rule: Post-Apocalyptic
Word Count: 1147
“Mr. Vice Mayor,” Lawrence said to the bald man warming his hands by the fire, “Please call the meeting to order.”
Barry stamped his foot twice in the soft ashy dirt. “The council meeting is commencing!”
Lawrence cleared his throat. “First order of business: Quartermaster, please give us an update on rations and pertinent supplies.”
“We still have an abundance of canned meats, vegetables, and fruits,” Jennifer said, consulting her notes. “However, we are dangerously low on carbohydrates.”
“Scribe, write that down,” Lawrence said, “Priority one tomorrow is carbohydrate foraging.”
Susan nodded. “Yes, Mr. Mayor.”
“Please proceed, Quartermaster.”
A branch snapped beyond the campfire’s glow. Lawrence turned to the large muscled man to his right. “Defense Minister, please investigate.”
“Yo!” Roland barked. “Who’s out there?” He leveled his shotgun at the darkness.
A wiry man stumbled out of the woods with his hands up. “Whoa! Hey man, don’t shoot! I just wanna be a part of the meeting!”
“Dammit, Earl,” Roland said, “I almost shot you, man.”
Lawrence stamped his foot. “Order! Earl, this is official business. I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”
“Man, gently caress that. I’m the only one without some dumbass office.”
“I’m sorry, Earl,” Lawrence said, “But these meetings are closed to the public. Maybe next election you will get a place on the council.”
Earl threw his baseball cap on the ground. “No! I am the goddamn public! That means I’m the boss of all ya’ll. You’re gonna let me participate.”
Jennifer rolled her eyes. “Earl you’re supposed to be on guard duty. Why don’t you make yourself useful.”
Earl bounded up to the fire. “Alright, guard duty. Let’s get proactive and put this stupid loving fire out. It’s a liability.” He kicked dirt on the fire.
“Some band of cannibals or some poo poo might see it and come eat our asses.”
Susan jumped up. “Goddammit, Earl! I need it to write!”
Lawrence nodded to Roland. “Defense Minister.”
Earl leapt back as Roland took a step toward him. “Write this down!” Earl waved his middle finger at Susan and sprinted into the night.
Lawrence sighed. “I loving hate that guy.”
“We all do, Mr. Mayor,” Martin said. “But it’s our tolerance of the lesser citizenry that separates us from the barbarians who’ve taken over the cities.”
“I know, Mr. Chief Justice,” Lawrence said. “I know. Let’s get back to business. Where were we?”
“Carbohydrates,” Barry said.
“Right. Defense Minister, are we deep enough into this forest that we could start some sort of sustenance farming?”
“I’m not sure. Some of the weaker militias could be driven to make expeditions out here. We’re not as far from the old populated areas as I’d like to be.”
“Don’t plant no fuckin carbs, man!” Earl yelled from the trees. “We should be growin’ weed!”
Lawrence wheeled around. “Goddammit, Earl, go guard the loving perimeter!”
“gently caress you! We could trade that dank poo poo we grow with the barbarians!” Earl crept back into the firelight. “Plus we could smoke it! Just ‘cause it’s the aponkalypse or whatever don’t mean we got to live like assholes. Susan, write that poo poo down.”
“Scribe, do not write that down!”
“I wasn’t going to, Mr. Mayor.”
Earl spit. “Man, I got better ideas than all ya’ll. Put me on the drat council.”
“He can have my job,” Barry said.
Lawrence wheeled back around. “Shut up, Barry!”
Barry cringed. “I mean, I don’t even really have any responsibilities as Vice Mayor.”
“Shut it, Barry,” Lawrence said through clenched teeth, “This isn’t the time.”
“There’s really no procedure for abdication of our elected positions,” Martin said. “You’d be violating a sacred trust with the voters if you were to just quit, Barry.”
Barry lowered his head. “I’m sorry guys. I didn’t mean it. I was just trying to help out Earl.”
“If Earl doesn’t leave this instant, he’s going to be beyond help, because the Defense Minister is going to put a loving bullet in him.”
“I’d rather save the ammo for the real threats, Mr. Mayor.”
Lawrence threw his hands up. “Dammit, Roland, do your job.”
“Earl, get out of here before I snap your scrawny neck.”
Earl slunk away muttering.
Lawrence rubbed his temples. “History is going to remember moments like these as our true tests of maintaining civilized governance when everything came crashing down.”
Martin put a wrinkled hand on Lawrence’s shoulder. “Without your leadership, we’d truly be lost, Mr. Mayor. Everyone here appreciates your efforts in keeping this group going in an orderly manner.”
“I’d like to second that sentiment,” Jennifer said.
“Third,” Susan said.
“Thank you, esteemed council members,” Lawrence said. He drew a long, calming breath. “I really needed to hear that.”
Earl marched back up to the group waving a piece of paper. “Oh look what I found. If it ain’t our con’titution. Says here the Mayor can appoint people to office. Don’t everyone need to be voted in.”
Lawrence locked eyes with Earl, tried to maintain his composure.
“I want an office, Lawrence. Ain’t fair I’m the only one that don’t have one. Just give me something, rear end in a top hat.”
“You want an office? You want a loving office? Fine! I, Lawrence Winthrop, Mayor of this camp of free peoples of the former United States of America, hereby name you, uh, loving, Dog Catcher! Yeah, Dog Catcher! You are now Head Dog Catcher of our Dog Catching Department. Go catch some loving dogs.”
“What the gently caress, man.” Earl crossed his arms. “Ain’t no dogs around. Most probably been eaten. Nuh uh. That’s bullshit.”
Lawrence laughed a hoarse maniacal bark. “Tough poo poo, Mr. Head Dog Catcher. The Mayor has spoken. Oh, also, if you had bothered to keep reading our ‘con’titution’ you would have seen that only elected officials are allowed to attend council meetings. So go take your new office and gently caress off!”
Earl clenched his jaw. “You know what. gently caress it. gently caress all ya’ll. I’m done. I’m leaving and founding my own drat free country. You all can go to hell.” Earl stormed off raising both middle fingers to the sky.”
Lawrence grinned. “Good riddance! Sheesh!”
“Wait!” Barry called after Earl. “I’m coming with you!” Barry jogged to catch up with him.
“Welcome aboard, buddy,” Earl said shaking Barry’s hand.
Earl and Barry collected their ragged backpacks and set up camp a few yards away. In the morning they’d set out on their own.
“I’m gonna run poo poo way different than those assholes,” Earl said, staring up at the stars. “In fact, I ain’t even going to run poo poo. Everyone’ll pick their own office. No stupid voting. Plus, we’re going to grow a ton of weed.”
“That sounds awesome,” Barry said from deep within his sleeping bag.
“What do you want your office to be, bud?”
“Fishing. I want to be Head Fisherman.” Barry yawned. “I love fishing.”
“You got it, man.”
|# ? Aug 19, 2013 01:15|
So yea. I'm gonna have to pull out this week. I haven't written a word yet
Same. Depression just totally dunked me today.
|# ? Aug 19, 2013 01:42|
George was the last dog. Hidden among the tall grass, metres away from the uneven roads leading into Rassgart. By the time he found it, the ground it lay on was thick and brown, grass dried with crusted blood. It was on its side, from its exposed wound its broken rib bones extending out to the greying skies, intestines spilling out and beset by flies. Its eyes were silver now, just like the little metal tag on its collar.
George. Some pariah dog until that woman adopted it. Now it was just dead.
All Alexei had to do was collect the carcass, and that was it. But yet, he could not.
“You will catch those dogs,” Mayor Shah had said, when the police were beginning the shootings.
“I will catch the dogs,” Alexei had answered.
The radio the local police loaned him crackled to life. We got all the dangerous ones, we think, said the voice. Best guy in Rassgart will grab the rest. We’ll get to call it at five.
Copy, said another voice. Less enthusiastic, more wearied. Any live ones?
Negative, we put them all down. A pause. We had to.
Dogs are dangerous, you see.
“Dogs are dangerous,” announced Lee in a speech, anything but impassioned in truth but not in voice and stature. It was after prayers, which almost every person of Rassgart, young and old and weak and strong, attended. And all those persons, men and women and rich and poor, nodded their heads, agreeing with Lee, that the verses should be interpreted as he claimed, that dogs were dangerous and should not be trusted.
Among those who nodded was Mayor Shah. For one brief second, the Mayor allowed his composure to drop, chancing a smile at Lee. The religious leader, voted into power by the Mayor, interpreter of new and stricter and more fundamental doctrines in the verses, acknowledged with a beam. “Let dogs not be part of our lives!” he announced, hands stretched out to the people beneath him, and they whooped and cheered and repeated his mantras, never questioning their truth nor veracity.
Fine, just get rid of all the bodies, said the tired voice. I’ve still got to deal with mine. At least yours don’t need no paperwork.
Alexei was ostracized, of course. Before Lee’s sermon, he was just that guy who was willing to touch stray dogs. Then he became that person.
Sometimes, he wondered if he, or the rest, were wrong. Most of the nights, he grabbed the cheapest swill from the corner lot and lay down in his room, among the roaches and the spiders, staring out of the bottom of an empty glass, wishing it showed anywhere but Rassgart..
Then the Majorie woman got herself arrested. After the sermons, a “concerned citizen” made a report on the town’s dog lady, adopter of strays and keeper of exotics. The police went to her house at the edge of the woods and took her away anyway, despite everyone knowing she was that eccentric woman with the dogs, even before Mayor Shah was elected, even before he came to town. They came in vans and cars and gathered around her house during the arrest, some kneeling to pray “for her soul” and others throwing rocks and rotten fruits. They made her spend a night in jail, disallowing her cousin to post bail until the next day. Listening to the news on the radio then in his van, Alexei breathed a sigh of relief, knowing the targets have shifted.
A week later, the first report of a stray dog came in. Then there were two, and three, and the phones in the police station would not stop ringing. Someone reported pitbulls, which everyone knew was banned in the country even.
It was when someone reported a “large, black lion eating a Chihuahua” that the police started gathering guns. People locked themselves and their children indoors, as the police found to their horror wandering Tibetan Mastiffs and Maeremma Sheepdogs and Rottweilers and Bull Terriers with trails of dead, smaller dogs in their wake.
A squad car arrived at Majorie’s house and found the door wide open, the hall full of dog feces, blood and remains, open cages in every room, and Majorie seated in the attic, half her face pancaked on the wall behind her, the shotgun in her hand still warm to the touch.
Within the hour Alexei’s phone rang, waking him up. He grunted, absent-mindedly kicking the empty bottle of vodka off the mattress. It rolled down the floor, dripping little drops of alcohol as he reached for his cell, tucked between a volume of Game of Thrones and a spunk magazine.
Mayor Shah told Alexei Earl Sayle to get the dogs they have not killed.
And here he was.
A van full of terrified, barking dogs in cages, in a town that hated him but now needed him. Looking over a dog, once living off the street, taken into comfort by warm, loving hands, only to be thrown out and shot down, literally, like a dog in the street.
And what was it all for? After he got all the dogs, what would that mean? Another batch of dogs to put down? A justification for the jihad against dogs for Lee? A new agenda for Mayor Shah’s next campaign?
And what about Alexei? What did it mean for him?
He looked down at George, the dead dog, quietly rotting on the ground beneath his feet.
In years to come, Alexei would have forgotten George. He would have let all the dogs in his van out, skipped rent and town, drove as far as he could to the closest town before his gas ran out. He would have removed all the insignia of his dog catcher job from the van, gone into a diner and made two perfect fried eggs, and worked as their line chef for years. He would have found love, and perhaps he found wisdom.
But at night, in between waking and dreaming, he would have that brief recollection, forgotten as soon as he rolled to hug his lover, of George, lying on the ground, his mouth moving as it whispered to Alexei his death rattle,
All things must pass.
The radio crackled, but Alexei was no longer listening. He looked out to the distant, behind him police sirens stopping, one by one, and before him the vast horizon being led to by the uneven road, away, away from Rassgart. Away from Mayor Shah’s town.
The future was still uncertain. But it seemed less grey than the present.
DOGMAN: The Bark Knight.
(Approx. 1,110 words. Flash rule of "some fantasy element" complied with. Title courtesy Chillock.)
The Saddest Rhino fucked around with this message at 02:20 on Aug 19, 2013
|# ? Aug 19, 2013 02:18|
tell that worthless piece of poo poo to check his pms
|# ? Aug 19, 2013 02:20|
|# ? Aug 19, 2013 02:20|
“This is ridiculous,” Alexei said. “More than that, it’s insulting.”
“It’s required by city ordinance,” said the speakerphone on his desk. It was quite a good speakerphone, no distortion at all. Never let it be said that the City of Rassgart didn’t provide well for its employees. Or at least never let it be said that the Mayor’s brother didn’t work for a reputable telephone manufacturing company.
“Animal Control is a one-man department. Who exactly am I going to harass in the workplace, the mirror? The coffee machine?” Alexei leaned forward in his chair, wincing at the creaking noise it made.
“It’s an hour of your life, Sayle.” the speakerphone replied. “Just watch the presentation, take the test, turn in the results at City Hall by 5, and you will have successfully completed the City of Rassgart Workplace Gender, Race, and Sexuality Sensitivity Training and you’ll never have to think about it again. Until 2016. It’s required every three years.”
“And that’s another thing. It’s an online presentation, and an online test. Why do I have to print out-”
“City ordinance requires a hard copy be filed in person.” Feeling that an explanation in order, the speakerphone added, “The ordinance was written in 1971. That administration was quite socially progressive for its time.”
Alexei knew very well that there wasn’t any getting out of this, and it was hardly as though he disagreed with the intent. “Very well, but if anyone gets mauled by an escaped lion because I’m too busy with this, I’m going to hold you personally responsible..”
“The city severed its contract with that circus five years ago, and we all wish you would stop bringing it up. Relax, Alexei. The fine people and animals of Rassgart will be fine for the next hour. What could happen?” There was a click over the speakerphone as the Department of Human Resources for the City of Rassgart, in the person of the Mayor’s cousin, Pavel, got on with his own day’s work.
Alexei grumbled as he turned to his aging laptop -- not supplied by any relatives of the Mayor, which is why it hadn’t been replaced for six years -- and started the presentation. “Choices. An exploration of the complicated social situations and obstacles to be found in today’s modern diverse workp-” He muted the sound. He couldn’t skip the presentation -- he’d discovered that delightful feature before calling -- but he’d been through this sort of thing before, and he’d learned that the workplace training assessments created by this company were always multiple choice questions, and the answer was always “c”.
He stood up from his creaking chair, and turned around to switch on his radio, and when he sat back down, he was face-to-face with a slavering set of teeth. “What,” he said, “is the meaning of this?” as a tinny violin concerto (Vivaldi, he thought) began to play.
“Does this look like the face of a killer?” asked someone standing somewhere behind the teeth. Alexei stared at the teeth, noted the size of the dog to which they were attached, made a few educated guesses as to the breed, upbringing, and disposition of same. “You condemned him to die. That’s what we do to murderers. I think you’re the only murderer here, Mister Dog-Catcher. And my poor gentle Hugo shall have to mete out justice.”
Alexei now recognized the teeth, the dog, and the voice of his owner. He’d thought that business done with. “Your ‘poor gentle Hugo’ attacked seven people, including the Mayor’s mother-in-law. One of Hugo’s victims did, in fact, die from his wounds. The law is very clear, the courts agreed, and the matter is out of my hands. Now, do yourself a favor and-”
Hugo’s owner, whose name Alexei couldn’t quite recall, something long and complicated starting with a K, wasn’t listening. He was staring at Alexei’s laptop. “Are you watching a film? On duty?”
“It’s a workplace training video,” said Alexei. There might be an opportunity here.
“Turn it up,” said Mr. K. “I want to hear what the peoples’ elected official does with our money.” Hugo strained at his lead, snapping at Alexei. His breath was horrible.
“My position is appointed,” muttered Alexei, as he reached, careful not to let his hands tremble in the slightest, to turn up the volume on his laptop.
Mr. K stared. “He shouldn’t say that to her. And he shouldn’t have said that at all.”
“It’s that sort of video. It’s meant to educate us about workplace harassment.” Alexei said. His left hand was very close to his desk drawer. He’d have to be very careful not to draw attention.
“So your masters agree, your attitude requires correction,” Mr. K said with some satisfaction. “I shall be pleased to be the instrument of that correction. Or rather, Hugo shall. Hugo, avenge your-”
Alexei’s left hand closed around the nearest object to hand, a souvenir “Welcome To Rassgart” snowglobe (manufactured by a company owned by the Mayor’s college roommate), which he flung at Hugo. Even had the snowglobe connected, it wouldn’t have done the dog any injury, but instead it flew past. And Hugo dove after it, giving Alexei the time he needed to stand up, shove the creaking chair toward Mr. K, and then, in the confusion, swing the shotgun he kept mounted under his desk up and around, covering man and dog in one smooth motion that he knew, in his heart of hearts, he would never be able to duplicate. A man of action he was not.
“It’s time for you to leave, sir. I will be calling the police once you’re gone. You would do well to surrender peacefully to them, but that, too, is out of my hands. But if you let go of that dog, or do anything but leave,, I will shoot him, and quite probably you as well.” He was, however, a man skilled at putting forth a cool-headed front. That was important, in his line of work. One did not dare show fear to the animals.
Mr. K pulled himself to his feet, trying to get Hugo under control. “You haven’t heard the last of this!”
“I’m sure I haven’t. I expect I’ll be testifying at your trial. Now go away, I’m very busy.” Alexei waved the shotgun at Mr. K’s retreating form.
It was much, much later when Alexei Earl Sayle appeared at City Hall. “My training evaluation,” he said, slapping down a piece of paper on Pavel’s desk. “I would have been here sooner, but there was a matter to discuss with the police.”
“Nothing serious, I hope?” Pavel said, reaching for the paper.
“Let’s just say that I’ve turned around on the question of this harrassment training. It saved my life,” said Alexei.
“Good...good. You missed an answer, here,” said Pavel.
“It’s c,” replied Alexei, having already turned to go.
“But I haven’t even told you what quest-”
“It’s always c.”
|# ? Aug 19, 2013 02:38|
I'm sorry, I can't get this done. Too much other stuff, not enough planning.
|# ? Aug 19, 2013 03:17|
Doggone suburbs (873 words)
Alexei crept toward the hedge, tranquilizer gun at the ready. He thought he'd seen something move in there, but it was hard to be sure with only the streetlights to see by. If he approached quietly, maybe he could...
"...might as well have anarchy!" Mrs. Haskell said, half-shouting the last word. There was a startled "meow" from the bushes, and a cat darted out towards the nearest house. Not the target, then.
"I'm sorry," Alexei said, his tone as patient as he could make it. The job would have been so much easier if Mrs. Haskell hadn't insisted on coming along. "I didn't catch that last part."
"I said, we can't let our lawns grow longer than three inches," Mrs. Haskell said, annoyed. "Four inches, that's practically inviting anarchy, but the Wilsons said..."
Another riveting anecdote from the Rassgart Homeowners' Association board. Alexei couldn't understand why these suburban people cared so much about the tiniest, most irrelevant things. He preferred not to leave the town proper at all, but this had been a personal request from the Mayor himself. The kind you couldn't turn down.
"Sorry to interrupt," Alexei said, "but we're trying to find a feral dog here. Can't sneak up on it if you're talking."
Mrs. Haskell looked genuinely confused. "But we already know where it is. Hiding out behind the Hendersons' house. You know, the ones who moved in last week? It's been there all day, the Hendersons had to keep their kids indoors..."
Alexei rubbed his temples. "I don't live here, Mrs. Haskell. Why didn't you mention this before?"
"I thought we were having a pleasant conversation. Honestly, young people today, no patience at all. You know, in my day..."
She stopped her tirade, glanced at her watch. "Fine, fine. No need to be so rude. This way."
Mrs. Haskell led Alexei a short way down the street, then took a right. A car was pulling out of the Henderson driveway just as the house came into view, and drove down the street away from the pair.
"Out at this hour?" Mrs. Haskell said, indignant. "In my day we didn't go out past supper."
"If they're not home, they won't be worried by what we're doing," Alexei said, walking up to the house. He leaned against the side of the house, and considered his plan of attack.
Mrs. Haskell said the feral dog liked was hiding out in the back yard. If it was territorial, it might attack Alexei as soon as he stepped around the corner. He could probably hit it with a dart before it got to him, but in the worst case scenario, both he and Mrs. Haskell could get mauled. Better take precautions, just in case.
"You're not likely to need it, but take this," Alexei whispered, handing a spare tranquilizer to Mrs. Haskell. "Don't shoot without my say so. Too many darts might kill it, and I like to bring 'em in alive, understand?"
She nodded and accepted the weapon with an unexpected nonchalance.
Alexei rounded the corner. A heartbeat later, he was tackled to the ground by a two hundred pound ball of fur and muscle, barking loudly. He felt its stinking breath on his face, and fumbled with the tranquilizer. A dog like that could tear out his throat if he didn't knock it out fast.
Then it started licking him. Nearly smothered him with sloppy dog kisses. No way this dog was feral. Alexei hadn't seen anything so tame in his life, so why—
Thwip. Thwip. Thwip.
The dog's relentless show of affection slowed to a crawl, then stopped. Its legs buckled, and it fell on top of Alexei, pinning him with its weight.
With a grunt of effort, Alexei rolled the dog off himself. There were four—thwip—five darts sticking out of its torso. It didn't seem to be breathing anymore.
"You told me it was feral," Alexei said. "But it's got a loving collar. And it sure didn't seem hostile."
"Yes," Mrs. Haskell said, casually offering Alexei his gun back. "I also told you our conversation was pleasant."
Alexei carefully checked the pulse of the great beast. Nothing. "You killed it."
"No, it ran away," Mrs. Haskell said with an unpleasant smile. "Now there's a big, dangerous dog loose in the neighborhood. I'm afraid I'll have to push for stricter pet regulations at the next Association meeting. I don't doubt it will pass, now."
She shot the dead animal a venomous look. "We can't have such untidy creatures around. Absolutely ruins the neighborhood aesthetic. Now get that thing to your van before the Hendersons come back."
Nobody would ever call him a paragon of virtue, but Alexei did have some ethics. "This is pointless animal cruelty," he said. "You're on your own."
Mrs. Haskell shrugged. "Leave it if you want. I'm not the one who owns a tranquilizer gun. Nobody will blame me for this, but it's better for both of us if you just do your job."
Alexei didn't have a rebuttal. He cursed under his breath, and jogged to the parking lot. Even after parking the van just outside the Henderson house, it took some effort to heft the carcass into the back. Mrs. Haskell didn't help, of course. She left him with the words: "Tell the Mayor I'll burn the pictures. Some of them," and walked off.
He drove back to his home in the inner city, where people were crazy in saner ways.
|# ? Aug 19, 2013 03:22|
flash rule: had to have a steamy affair
"It's not right, Mayor. Something's different out there. The dogs--you know this town, Mayor, you know these dogs--there's more than there ought to be. Where are they coming from? Why are they huddling in furtive groups behind Gulpy's Dairy Freeze? What are they planning?"
"I hardly think dogs have the reasoning capacity to--"
"Not the dogs, Mayor. The people behind the dogs. We need--get the FBI, Customs, the Port Authority. They're smuggling them in, and we need to know why."
Alexei E. Sayle, Animal Control Officer, was in the Mayor's office trying to expand the powers of the Animal Police State. The Mayor wasn't really having any of it, but Alexei had a trump card, much as he hated politicking.
"There're a lot of mothers out there wondering why their Mayor hasn't addressed the nine percent increase in child-disturbing dog-related-incidents, what with the impending election cycle."
The Mayor steepled his fingers against his lips and slowly spun around in his wheeled office chair. When he came back round to face Alexei, he said, "the Mayor can't be everywhere at once. I hire good men, much like the artist selects quality brushes, to help me render the town of Rassgart into the tableau of harmony and productivity that I've envisioned since boyhood. What I'm saying, Alexei, is that I am now wondering if one of my little brushes has gone spongey."
"Bah-bah-bah!" The Mayor held up a finger. "Before you say anything, I know all about your long years of service. But don't you wonder if something has changed? Since The Event, perhaps?"
Alexei paled. "Mayor, you said you'd never--"
"Think on it, Al. And I'll think on your...speculations. Does that sound fair?"
Alexei left City Hall not only chastened but in an acute physiological state of panic. It wasn't The Event itself so much as it was the thought of people speculating and wondering about it, and then, when they found out, going through the trouble of having feelings about his very personal ordeal, whether they be pity or revulsion or amusement.
Alexei took his usual route through town except so far as he bypassed Gulpy's and went instead to the Rolling Log Tavern, mostly because no one there liked him and so wouldn't come over exuding suffocating concern when he checked his pulse every thirty seconds as he waited for the liquor to expedite his come-down from a massive, anxiety-induced cortisol high.
It took him a moment to notice the pair of legs that slid into his peripheral vision. The legs shifted impatiently on the bar stool next to him. Finally they said, "I hear the dog catcher's lost his bite," in a sultry woman's voice, and Alexei looked up.
She was pretty-ish, in that way that made Alexei wish she'd worn a dress that had left more to the imagination, and close to his age, around fifty or so.
"Ma'am, I can assure you that the efficacy of Rassgart's Animal Control Force is quite in tact. If you're here on behalf of those who would compromise it, you-slash-they only get one warning: I'm onto you. Excuse me. Toilet." Alexei's pulse was nigh one-twenty and climbing, and the booze only deepened the thunderous pounding against the insides of his rib cage.
In the bathroom he checked his pupils for dilation, got a really good feel for his pulse in the big trembling arteries of his neck, bent over and hyperventilated a bit, then checked his pulse again. It was The Event, of course. They all knew, they all wanted to shuffle out the old fallen soldier, clip the dying branch before it fell and took the tentative harmony of Rassgart's domestic animal community with it. Oh, it would start with casual comments in the bar, a pity-laden glance here, loaded how-are-you's there. Then the polite questions; had he considered retirement?
It was halfway through the hyperventilation portion of the panic cycle that the door opened, and those legs and that dress tottered in on stiletto heels.
"I didn't mean to scare you," said the woman, sauntering over in a sort of clomping, bent-knee fashion. She positioned herself beside him and ran her hands over his hunched and rigid shoulders, a series of events that Alexei could only distantly observe through tears and snot. "I'm trying to protect you. You know more than you should, Alexei Sayle, and what you know in this world can hurt you. But I can protect you." Now her breasts were brushing his back.
"Not. Now. I really can't--"
"Hush, I know. I know," the woman purred, though she didn't know, since she, in fact, was unaware of The Event or any of its ramifications. "The mafiosos and their dog fighting rings are very powerful, they've ousted Animal Control on a dozen cities this way. First the dogs get out of control, and then if the officer doesn't resign, it gets worse and worse for him. Especially if, like you, he knows too much. But if I should tell my brother that I have taken you as my lover, he may let you resign in peace."
The woman ran one hand down Alexie's side, over the paunch that dropped over his trousers, and, with some effort, to the crotch of his trousers, where she lingered and made these kind of arousing circular motions. Her tongue flicked up and down the outside of his ear, her breath hot against his neck.
One thing happened, then, and another thing didn't. The thing that happened was that Alexei realized that he'd just been given on a silver platter the petard with which to hoist his saboteurs. The thing that didn't happen was the expected male physiological reaction to a woman of age-appropriate attractiveness pressing up against him in a public toilet, a fact that didn't go unnoticed by the woman.
Once Alexei untangled himself from the woman and explained that, no, he could not maintain an erection, and yes, it was due to an injury sustained in the line of duty which was an Event he'd rather not discuss, he asked her to accompany him to City Hall.
After a brief stop at the police station, Alexei threw open the Hall's doors quite dramatically, storming in just as the Mayor was leaving all a-chuckle with a shrewd-looking man in a suit. Both men froze when they saw Alexei accompanied by the woman and the Police Chief, who stepped forward and said, "Mayor, I'm sorry but this lady says you put her up to interfere in the duties of Officer Sayle here. You're under arrest under suspicion of misusing public funds and all that. So. I'd like you to come with me."
"You must spend too much time with the dogs to have a such a nose for fish," said the shrewd-looking man as the Mayor went grumbling with the Police Chief. "There could be a place for you in the for-profit side of things. You could be on the cutting edge of animal control, which is just what Rassgart needs."
"Scram, you bourgeois pig," Alexei said, his pulse comfortable and steady.
|# ? Aug 19, 2013 03:25|
Flash rule: Takes place in a gym
Sometimes Work Comes Up
Alexei ran on the treadmill. It faced a window, providing a view of gray skies and somber buildings. He pictured chasing a dog, which scampered over and over.
The background noise went through his ears. Someone was at the pull-up bar, doing reps to exhaustion. A voice counted, and counted, and counted. His dog gained on him.
The applause permeated the room like insect repellent. He hardened his focus until his bodily aches melted away.
Alexei stared at the reflection standing beside him. Tiredness smashed into him in waves. A well-built man grasped the handrail, his fingers big and meaty.
"Finished doing pull-ups?"
The man blinked. "Sorry for the commotion. You've been running for almost three hours, I think."
The man chuckled. "Who doesn't? When you do cardio, it's like you're training for the Olympics."
Alexei slowed. It was time to cool down. He checked the display and nodded at the amount of calories he had to gain back.
"I'm about done."
"Cool. Wanna come down for drinks? Some of us boys do it after a workout."
Alexei came to a halt. "Is it far?"
"Nah, just a block away. You coming?"
Alexei gave the clouds one last look. "Sure."
* * *
They sat around a large table, bristling with mugs and plates. Alexei's head throbbed in the noise and cramped space. He couldn't recall the last time he sat down in a crowded place. It made the beer better.
"Thanks for getting another guy to split the bill, Tom," Jed said. Three fries forked out of his lip as he chewed them.
Tom grinned, presiding over the table like a patriarch. He had a huge bowl of salad before him, smelling like a garden. "What can I say, I'm popular with men."
"But not girls," Chad complained. He propped himself up on his elbows, one hand clutching a mug of beer.
Jed laughed, then gulped down a mouthful of beer. "Chad, if you've got time to complain, get one."
Alfred leaned forward. "Sorry about these young men, Earl. I hope they aren't bothering you with their prattling."
Alexei looked up from the potato he was cutting. "I'm used to it. Are you the owner?"
"My son left it to me. Funny story, if you ask me." Before anyone could protest, Alfred gulped down half of his beer.
"Don't take the old man seriously, Earl," Jed whispered. "He'd need a new liver if not for our company."
"Alcoholics drink alone."
"Yeah, thanks to us you aren't one."
Jed picked up the platter of pork chops, scooping two onto his plate. "Want one to go with those greens, Tom?"
Tom smiled and said, "no thanks, Jed. I'm a vegan."
"Pass me some hot sauce, then."
"How long were you on that treadmill, Earl?" Alfred said.
Alexei closed his eyes, recalling. "Two hours and fifty minutes."
"Do you lift?"
"Yeah, but elsewhere."
"A rival gym, maybe?" Tom said, lifting an eyebrow. Chad whistled.
"No, at work. When I'm free, I move boxes around."
Tom nodded. "So what do you actually do for a living, then?"
"I catch stray animals, turn them over to animal shelters, or deal with cases of animal cruelty."
"A dog catcher!" Chad said.
"It's not just dogs, Chad," Tom said, spearing his salad.
Alexei shook his head. "No, it's mostly dogs anyway. No animal troubles in this table, I hope?"
"My wife's allergic to them," Jed said.
"Bullshit. You have a wife?" Chad said.
Jed threw up his hands. "What can I say, some women look for more than just pretty muscles."
Chad sighed. "No animals in the house, officer."
"We have a cat," Alfred said. "Louise, that's my wife for you Earl, she dotes on him too much. Pretty soon and he'll have to lift weights, too."
"I keep a dog," Tom said. "His name is Timmy. Nice and loyal."
"Sorry for talking about work," Alexei said. "Sometimes it just comes up."
Alfred beamed. "Well, it's a public service, and we're all proud of you, son."
"Sure, gramps," Jed said.
"I'm only fifty-three!" Alfred snapped.
"Cut it out, guys. Let's have a toast for our new friend!" Tom said.
Alexei lifted his mug, along with the others.
* * *
The next day, Alexei showed up in the gym early.
"Good morning, Earl," Alfred said, slouched on the front desk. "They're not here yet. Probably hungover. Kids. How are you?"
"I just had a little. You should drink some water before bed."
Alfred nursed his head. "Keep forgetting to do that. Anyway, what's up? A quick workout before coming to work?"
Alexei smiled. He was wearing his uniform. "Actually, I'm signing up for a membership."
"Really? That's good." Alfred laid down a bound book on the desk. "Just fill it up here and follow the format."
"Hey Alfred, could you spot me for a while?" A voice called from inside.
"I'm used to filling up forms," Alexei said. "I'll be fine."
Alfred nodded. "Be back in a bit, Earl."
"Take your time," Alexei replied. Very carefully, he turned the pages.
* * *
Alexei parked his van on the side of the road. The houses kept small gardens, set alight by the glow of the rising sun.
He trekked up the porch of a particular white house. A white bull terrier barked at him, guarding the door. He fished a treat out of his pocket and wagged it in front of the dog.
The dog's expression changed. Alexei frowned. He threw the treat at the dog's feet. It was lapped up in an instant.
"What's with the ruckus this morning..." A head peeked out of the door. It was Tom.
"Good morning, Tom," Alexei said.
"Morning. Can I help you?" Tom's hair was still unkempt, and his eyes were droopy.
"Sorry for the bother, but I was just checking out your dog. Timmy's his name, right?"
Tom forced a smile. "Yeah. How's he doing, then?"
"Pretty bad." Alexei shook his head. "You're not feeding him meat, are you?"
"I'm a vegan."
"Timmy isn't. Dogs are carnivorous. See how hungry he is?" Alexei patted Timmy's head. The dog devoured another treat.
Tom all but barged out of the door. "You shouldn't feed him that. He's not trained--"
"You don't have to train a dog to eat meat, Tom." Alexei said, standing up. "I'm taking Timmy for tests. If we find out that he's been underfed and malnourished, you'll be held accountable."
Tom clenched his fists. "The hell I am."
Alexei took a stance. "Please don't do this, Tom."
With a wordless grunt, Tom charged Alexei, tackling him.
They tumbled to the ground. Alexei threw his arms up, blocking the punch with his fist. He caught the next punch and twisted, rolling over Tom. He slammed his elbow on the side of Tom's head.
Tom groaned from the blow.
Alexei cuffed him. "You're under arrest for animal cruelty and assaulting a public servant." Timmy wagged his tail at Alexei, barking happily.
"I thought we were friends," Tom said.
Alexei shrugged. "Me too."
|# ? Aug 19, 2013 03:47|
This story contains graphic and potentially disturbing descriptions of mental illness and self-injury.
Also confusing prose. Stream-of-consciousness is hard.
Flash Rule: Pick any two previous flash rules.
1.)The main character experiences a moment of horrific surrealism that no one else acknowledges.
2.)You HAVE to write in a stream of consciousness.
With a bonus of: Consequences involved in your story COULD mean death for a character.
“Were the girls all asleep?” Don asks. Sleep, sleep. Eight sleep two to a room and me alone in a closet-room in the dark with the voices.
Newguy answers. “Yep. Even Joan. Surprised me after the poo poo she pulled today.” I am Joan, and I am not asleep. Just mouse-quiet in the dark.
“I heard it's down to me or Jesse for shift manager.” Down, down. Downstairs in the office where they talk all night. Down in the light where they think I don't understand.
“It's you for sure, Don. Jesse's a prick.” Jesse-the-prick makes you sit up here in the dark, watching me. Watching me. Always. That's why I'm here: blood in the dark and torn veins and mother screaming. “The boss was asking around. I told him you'd be the better choice.”
Not watching me. Down there, talking. I could do it now. Now, now. Ow. The floorboards are stronger than my nails. Scratch, scratch, bend, snap. Another broken. Warm mouth around my finger, sharp taste of blood. Blood. Keep trying.
Creak and the floorboard giving. Quiet, quiet. I'm a mouse. Don't hear me, don't see me, just me and the dark. Still like a statue, listen close. Don says, “Thanks man. Fifty cents an hour isn't much, but I need it with the baby coming.” They didn't hear. Crack crack like popcorn. Long, jagged broken wood. Splinters in my palm. Ow, ow. Not enough blood. Too dark to see. Put the point against my wrist. Tender, thin skin. To press or not to press?
Don't press. I want to live. I want to go home. “God, Don. I can't believe that bitch bit me. Is she always like that?” Bitch, bitch. I'm a bitch that bites, a pitbull bitch with a deathwish. Press the splinter in. Skin tearing, pain, pain. Blood and splinters and dark.
“Joan? Yeah. It's just for attention. Thanks for grabbing her. If she'd wound up at the hospital on my shift, I'd have been screwed.” Attention and sirens, hospitals and group homes and voices all night. My life is worth a fifty cent raise.
Pain in my chest, in my gut, in my brain. The wrist is numb and far away, but the voices are close and mean and loud in my head and I'm sobbing. Bright lights rush in; someone screams. I've woken the others and they've opened the door. Red blood and screaming: I'm caught again.
- - -
Soft tight cotton on sore scabbed wrists. White bracelets of shame to cover the blood. Thin soup like slime in my throat. Cotton snagging fingernails. A warm hand on mine, gentle and firm, stopping me. Jesse's beside me but he's not looking, just grabbing my hands until the itching passes. He's looking at Don and Don's looking at him and they're smiling, smiling, a crocodile smile just waiting for the snap.
“How's the wife?” Jesse asks. Wife, wife, in your normal life. “Due any day now, isn't she?”
“She was due two days ago. I'm expecting the phone call any minute.” Slimy cold soup and a plastic spoon. Bend the spoon like a telekinetic, sharp plastic shards. Itch, itch, itch the wrists. Hands on mine, warm, firm. “What about you? Been out in the boat?”
Noodles float in soup, float like a boat. Cold and small in a big bowl-lake. Don't want the soup. Hunger sharp and angry, sharp and angry like me. I'm small and sharp and angry and I don't have a boat or a wife or a life.
- - -
Bright light, fluorescent light. Together in the light in the office where the paperwork piles, falls, and scatters like snow. Scratch, scratch, pen on paper. Jesse writes neat and small. He thinks I can't read. They all do, cause I don't talk. If I don't I can't because they can and they do. Logic and egos all tied in knots.
. . .other clients indicate that Joan was alone in her room without staff when the injuries occurred, in violation of her protocol which indicates twenty-four hour one on one supervision. . .
A creaky door, old door, office door. Newguy comes in. Tight lips, tight eyes, nervous guy. Said I was asleep last night when I was mouse-quiet in the dark. “Hello,” he says,
“Hi.” Papers rattle, shuffle, slide away in a drawer. “Have a seat.” Jesse has his angry voice on, all quiet and calm. Newguy's butt hits a chair with a thump. Thump, lump, newguy down on his luck. “I see that you were working last night when Joan was hurt. Were you aware that she requires supervision at all times?” All time, night time, end time. Alone time is no more, gone out the door with the sirens and the blood.
“Don told me that once she was asleep it was safe to leave her,” newguy says. Don wants a fifty-cent raise and a tag that says “manager.” Wants money for a baby. Will he leave her alone in the dark, too?
“You will not leave her alone again, understood?” Jesse asks. Newguy nods. Nods, nods, wants to keep his job. “I've sat with her all afternoon. She's reasonably calm, but she is not to be trusted alone. She's sneaky. Keeps trying to pull the bandages off. Just grab her hands.”
“I'm not sure I'm comfortable...”
“Listen, kid. I've sat with her all afternoon and I need a goddamned break. We all have to do things we don't like. You'll do your part or leave, got it?” Jesse's not so calm now. Sneaky, sneaky. Things we don't like. Need a break. He liked me, liked me, held my hands. All a lie. Lie, die. Nobody likes me and I will die.
Fingernails on cotton, pressure on wrists. Stretch, snap, breaking gauze. Scabs and blood. Hands on my arms, hands on my hands. Turn, bite. Salty sweat and soap and hand sanitizer. Jesse's voice, angry and quick: “Bitch bit me. Grab her!”
Bitch, bitch, pitbull bitch. Put her down. It's down to you for manager, Jesse, and you're a prick.
|# ? Aug 19, 2013 03:54|
Keeping His Promise
“Rakesh? Christ, what time is it?”
Matteo kept the phone cradled between his ear and shoulder while he rubbed the sleep from his eyes. Next to him Lianne grumbled and put a pillow over her face.
“I think you had better come down here Matteo. We’ve got a situation on our hands,” said Rakesh.
“Hold on, I’ll call you back from the conference room,” said Matteo.
“No, we need you down here right away.”
“No way. It’s my week off.”
“We need you here in person. No talking on the phone. When you arrive I’m supposed to escort you past reception so that you don’t have to sign in,” said Rakesh. “Officially you still are on vacation.”
Matteo said he’d come up and then hung up the phone.
“Do you remember what you told me a year ago?” asked Lianne.
“Not now Lianne. Please.”
“You promised you’d find another job.”
The ride to the Green-Grove/Star-Lake Administrative Control Facility took half an hour by surface travel. Matteo spent the time reviewing his notes but that was easier said than done with the cab’s built in television set at full volume.
The commercials were atrocious and the talk show wasn’t much better. Mostly the discussion was about the primary, with the majority of pundits agreeing that 2064 was looking like it would be a good year for Marquist after his upset loss four years earlier.
Rakesh was waiting for him on the steps of the G-G/S-L Administrative building. He shepherded Matteo past the main desk and up the service elevator without letting him sign in.
“What the hell is going on?” Matteo asked once they were past the front desk.
“You haven’t been following the news?”
“Not when I can help it,” said Matteo. “Does this have something to do with Marquist being the favourite for next month?”
“No, not exactly. There’s been another riot in Star-Lake West,” explained Rakesh. “It’s bad. Half the district’s administration buildings were being occupied before the Custodians showed up.”
“So call the police,” said Matteo. “It’s out of our hands.”
Rakesh chuckled and shook his head.
“You really are out of the loop, aren’t you? Marquist has been raising a stink about privatization. His entire campaign is that the Custodian system isn’t working. If we call the cops in to settle an Industrial Dispute in the heart of Old LA a month before the primary it will vindicate his entire campaign. Victor wants this settled through the proper channels.”
They found Victor pacing back and forth in the main conference room. Kavitha, Heather and Antoine were seated around the table.
“I’m telling you” said Heather “it’s the stipend. Every time Washington raises it we have another incident. The miners know they’re going to eat no matter what, so why should they care if we dock their wages? They’ll wait us out. You want this fixed, crack the whip.”
“We aren’t talking about some burbclave in Green-Grove, we’re talking about Star-Lake,” said Kavitha. “We may be an irrelevant backwater but Los Angeles is a name that still means something to a lot of people in this country. One video of the Custodians shooting protestors on Hollywood Boulevard and you’ll hand Marquist his victory faster than if you had called in the police.”
“She’s right,” said Antoine. “If half the district starved nobody would pay attention. You start shooting people and we’re gonna end up on national television. Guaranteed Marquist will be chanting ‘Remember Star-Lake’ at every campaign stop from here on out.”
Victor glared past them to look at Matteo.
“Enjoying your vacation?” he asked.
“Trying to,” said Matteo. “I’m Logistics, not Security. Why am I here?”
Victor gestured dismissively at those seated around the table in front of him.
“Get out,” he told them. “Not you Rakesh, I want to speak with you two alone.”
“What’s this about?” Matteo asked once the other had decamped.
Victor ignored his question. Instead he turned to Rakesh.
“What’s the current estimated stockpile in Star-Lake West’s holding facility?” asked Victor.
“Ten tons of Neodymium. Six tons Europium. Probably about—“
“I know the numbers for my department” interrupted Matteo.
“And you know that there are four hundred million people in this country depending on those resources being redistributed” said Victor.
“Not really,” said Matteo. “Star-Lake is hardly the only rare earths deposit. Last year Happy-Junction—“
“Let’s stay focused on Star-Lake” said Victor. “We can’t afford to lose a shipment, not now. We might not be America’s biggest or most glamorous district, but if everyone isn’t pulling their weight then this country is in trouble. I’m sure you can see that. If we can’t keep our own supply lines running what message does that send to the Brazilians?”
“I just make the trains run, I don’t see what this labour dispute has to do with me,” said Matteo.
“That’s exactly it. We don’t want the trains to run.”
“Wait, you what? That isn’t an option.” Matteo glanced nervously at Rakesh, who remained tight lipped.
“Not officially, of course. We just need you to delay a couple of grain shipments.”
“You do that and people will starve.”
“Hunger has a certain power to bring clarity” said Victor. “It reminds people of their place in the grander scheme of things. That’s all we’re looking for—a reminder of why it’s important to keep all the shipments running on time.”
“So this is how you’re going to end the occupation? Starving people?”
“Would you prefer we use force?”
Suddenly Matteo wasn’t looking at a man anymore. Standing in front of him was a six foot tall rat clad in an ill fitting suit. The rat smiled and ran its long, leathery tong over the row of sharply pointed teeth protruding from its mouth. Matteo threw a panicky glance at Rakesh but if he had seen the change he showed no indication of it.
“This is the most humane course of action,” explained the rat, speaking with Victor’s voice. “It’s also the most efficient.”
Matteo took a deep breath. It was a hallucination. He was seeing things. It wasn’t real.
“It violates every code of—“
“Officially it will be a computer error,” the rat explained, “a computer error with career enhancing prospects.”
Rakesh was nodding. Except it didn’t look much like Rakesh anymore. It was another rat.
“Star-Lake is a backwater,” said the rat-thing that had been Rakesh a moment before. “There are fifteen hundred districts in this country. In a year we’ll hold a disciplinary hearing for one of your subordinates and exonerate them of any wrong doing. None of this will touch you, and at the end of it you can move on to somewhere that actually matters.”
“The name of the game here is keeping out of the spotlight,” added Victor. “We don’t need Marquist raising a stink about the way we do business here. Let’s remain obscure.”
Later, after he had taken some deep breaths and splashed cold water from the bathroom sink into his face, he called Lianne at home.
“Listen sweetheart,” he said, trying to forget what he had seen. “I’ve been thinking. You remember that promise I made a year ago?”
|# ? Aug 19, 2013 04:10|
A Dog Eat Dog World
Flash Rule: Right of Succession serves as an impetus
The cityscape streamed across opaquely reflecting rear-windows as two men discussed business.
Alexei thumbed his cell phone a bit before speaking, “I want the apartment.” He closed the partition behind the driver.
“It is in a good location,” said his friend, Charles.
Alexei thumbed his celled phone a little bit more before muttering, “I deserve it.”
“And I can’t believe that rent-control.”
“I’ve put up with her for years. She hired me on as an assistant eleven years ago, I believe,” Alexei said.
“And she still thinks it’s some favor to you. At first everyone thought, Oh, she hired her dog-catcher nephew, how quaint, but then you turned out to be quite the fixer,” Charles said.
“I’ve been keeping all the penny ante corruption quiet and profitable for years now. You want to know why the esteemed Commissioner for Legal Affairs of the Business Integrity Commission never ended up as front page news? Me. I know people and I don't let problems get away from me. My dearest Aunt doesn’t and can’t. Awful person. No one likes her.”
“Wasn’t she married once,” Charles asked as the car jerked from a sizable pot hole.
“Briefly. That’s how she ended up with the apartment, actually,” Alexei muttered, holding onto the overhead grip as the car took a hard turn.
“That’s not right.”
“You’re god damned right it isn’t. And it’s a great apartment. I talked to her lawyer? Tells me she’s thinking about leaving it to my sister instead now.”
“You got her lawyer to talk to you!? Jesus, I think I need a drink for this conversation,” Charles removed a flask from his jacket pocket. “You want a swig?”
“No, thanks. But I needed to know if what my sister told me was true. She told me that my loyal Aunt was thinking about leaving her the apartment. Doesn’t like me. I figure, after all these years of putting up with her, I’d better have more to show for it than being about halfway to a pension. I deserve it.”
“I agree but messing with her lawyer is pretty serious. What if she finds out?”
“She’ll never know,” Alexei said.
“How can you be so sure?”
“Make sure not to repeat this to anyone: He’s my guy. I made sure he was there when she happened to need a new one.”
“Well, that works,” Charles said. “Where’d you find the guy?”
“That’s an unnecessary question.”
“Understood,” Charles said, “but, what are you going to do about the apartment?”
“Let me tell you about my aunt. She loves her cats. Hell, I told the lawyer some of her cat stories and he knew just what to say. She thinks he has a hairless Egyptian or something and they get along fabulously,” Alexei said.
He continued, “But her building doesn’t allow pets anymore. She was grandfathered in and the landlord hates her for it. His brother is the super and is horribly allergic. He’s been looking for any reason to get rid of her. I gave him one. Her apartment’s on the second floor, restaurant’s on the first floor. Last week, I plugged up her ventilation a little bit so the odor would track down into the kitchen below.”
Charles began laughing.
Alexei continued, “I was just texting with my friend at the health department and it’s all sorted out. She’s going to have to either get rid of her cats or move. And she loves those drat cats.”
“When does he find out?”
“Should be sometime today. At the very least, she’ll be looking to sub-let. My sister’s in no position to take it so it should go to me. There’s no one else. She may not like me but she’s not comfortable unless she feels I owe her. And she really enjoys having a rent-controlled apartment to her name, particularly one with a view of Central Park. And by the time she’s dead, I’ll have enough of a claim that it’ll be no trouble convincing my sister that the apartment belongs to me.”
“That’s some good work,” Charles said, laughing.
Alexei chuckled, “I want that apartment.” He opened the partition behind the driver.
|# ? Aug 19, 2013 05:02|
Flash rule: make up some slang
Lydia pulled into the library parking lot and saw a small crowd forming by the entrance, with her assistant, Oscar, trying to keep them calm.
“Oscar, what’s going on?”
“There’s a situation inside. Follow me.”
She followed him through the entrance and into the periodicals section, where an agitated opossum was scampering between shelves.
“How did that get in here!?”
“It looks like it chewed through the screen in the romance section.”
“Jesus Christ, Oscar! How are we going to fix this!?”
“I don’t know…oh, I know. I’ll go get a garbage can and try to catch it…”
“Wait wait wait, no. This is the opportunity I’ve been waiting for. If I can make sure the director knows I took care of this, and made the Library Department look good, I have a much better shot at the assistant director job.”
“That’s a great idea. What should I do?”
“Do you still have that friend at animal control? We want someone who can come and take care of it, but act like he’s a library employee. We don’t want to make it look like we needed outside help.”
“You mean Alexei? I mean, not since my sister broke up with him when the carnival left town…”
“Well, get him over here. We need this thing caught. I’m going to call Janet at the Rassgart Weekly. We need the press to see this. This way, the director can find out on his own, and it won’t look like I’m showing off.”
“Okay, Lydia, I’ll talk to him.”
By the time Alexei arrived, it was already one o’clock in the afternoon, and Janet still hadn’t shown. Oscar, following Lydia’s orders, had blocked off the bulk of the library. The bathrooms, office, and Kidz’ Korner were still accessible, though, and Lydia let the pre-K afternoon story time go on as scheduled, since it wasn’t anywhere near the animal.
Janet, the reporter, walked to the library from her office downtown. Because Lydia was waiting to catch her pulling into the parking lot, she completely missed her go in through the back. Alexei, on the other hand, was waiting inside and was the first to see her. Oscar had told him that if he caught the opossum today, while pretending to work directly for the library, he would put in a good word for him with his sister.
Confidently acting out his part, he approached the reporter.
“You’re the paperista, right? I’m Alexei, the poocher,” he said as he outstretched his visibly clammy paw.
“Yeah, I am. What’s a ‘poocher?’ …and nice to meet you, I think.” She shook his hand, but in a way that kept the actual physical contact to a minimum.
“You know, a hound hunter.”
“Right,” she said, not particularly comfortably.
Lydia, having seen them talking in the doorway, came back into the library.
“Hi Janet, thanks for coming by. We thought this would be a nice human interest piece for the paper. Come with me, and we’ll get started.”
Lydia gestured for Oscar, who had joined them, to unlock the door to the main library room where the animal had been contained.
“You have all your gear, Alexei?” she asked.
“Yeah, got my chokepole and netbox ready to go.”
“Okay, then let’s get started. Oscar, why don’t you lead the way?”
“Sure,” Oscar said, and he hesitantly led the group toward the periodicals section.
The opossum, however, was nowhere to be found. They circled up, concerned about an animal no bigger than a housecat having easy access to their ankles.
“Get down there and look under the shelves!” Lydia said to Oscar, who wanted nothing more than to stay in the circle.
“Oh-okay,” Oscar replied, and slowly got down on all fours to look under the furniture. “There’s nothing down here-“
He was cut off by a frothy snarl on the other side of the room.
From around a desk, on the opposite side of the group from Oscar, the opossum came into view.
“Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!” Lydia shrieked, with a tone that curdled the blood of humans and marsupials alike.
Alexei began slowly moving the chokepole’s business end towards the animal and calmly said “Don’t worry guys, I’ve tangled with these pesters before. The thing about branchbucks is that they don’t see slow movement very well. But their reflexes are extremely taught if someone were to make a quick- ”
Just then, Oscar, consumed with concern for his boss, lunged past the group and at the opossum, startling it. It ran back behind the desk and through the open door they came through from the lobby.
“Oscar, you idiot! Why didn’t you close the door when we came in!?” demanded Lydia.
Before he could answer, dozens of screams of young terror erupted from the Kidz’ Korner, where story time had prematurely ended. The four ran to the lobby, where they were stopped by a stampede of parents rushing their children to the parking lot. Alexei was the first to make it into the room, and located the animal right away.
“It’s over here, in the kidstash with the waterjacket sticking out. Keep that corndog away and I’ll catch it,” Alexei said, motioning toward Oscar, who was avoiding eye contact in the opposite corner.
Alexei lowered the chokepole and gripped the opossum in the looped cord. It struggled, its tail at one point smacking Alexei on his bare calf. “Little pester’s fiesty!” he said as it worked it into the netbox. Once safely inside, he carried it out to his truck, with it snarling the whole way.
Janet, taking out her notebook, turned toward Lydia. “That was pretty crazy there. Hard to believe one little animal could cause such a scene.”
“Oh, you know, just a normal day at my branch!” said Lydia, attempting to be charming.
“This is normal for you?” replied Janet, incredulously.
Oscar saw his moment to help his boss and chimed in. “Oh yeah, there’s always something crazy going on here. This place is a real circus. Sometimes I come here in the morning surprised it didn’t burn down overnight!”
Lydia, speechless, turned to Oscar, fists clenched. Trying and failing to regain her composure, she yelled, “You idiot! This is all your fault! The director had better not hear about this, or you’re French toas-“
The berating stopped as quickly as it began when Lydia saw Janet take the tape recorder out of her pocket and thumb the stop button.
|# ? Aug 19, 2013 06:22|
Strong Impressions (790 words)
BadSeafood: Your story must contain a clearly identified macguffin.
It was with a practiced candor Ursula snapped open the metal folding fan. Like all things in her world, it was beautiful; but it was not by the merits of its beauty she had brought it. It was Japanese in origin, black ink on gold leaf, and inscribed amongst the petals flowed an eloquent haiku. Sinclair’s wife had been from there, she was told, and she trusted the modest display would be enough to lower his guard.
“And where was it that you met your wife?”
“Suncheon, Korea. After the war.”
Ursula shut the fan with a click, eyes closed, an uncomfortable smile on her lips. A servant in black tie and gloves appeared and whisked away the offending object, tossing it overboard as he returned to the galley. Ursula regained her composure. She had not lost her opportunity to make a positive impression.
It was a private affair. Ursula, her guest, and about thirty staff. Space was cramped on her second largest yacht, but she didn’t want Sinclair to think she was trying too hard. If there was anything she had taken away from the lone fishing expedition her late father had taken her on, it was that one had to be careful when hooking their prey. It was one of the few things of value her father had left her, along with the estate, the money, and half of Rassgart. Still, Ursula had always believed in doing things herself, which was what brought the two of them here today.
“I can hardly believe August is just around the corner. Almost time for the annual dog show.”
“Indeed,” Sinclair perked up. “I must say, I didn’t expect to be picked to judge again.”
Ursula had, but humored the old man with a laugh. “I’m sure you’ll do your best.”
The previous two years had been a disaster. The first had suffered the peerage of Rebecca Tenenbaum, a mouse of a woman with the manners of a lion. The second had been worse. In all of Rassgart there was no one who ruffled Ursula’s feathers more than that abominable man, Alexei Sayle. A year later they still hadn’t cleaned the coffee stains from the carpet. She would’ve long since ordered it burned if that hadn’t felt like a concession of victory. But that was the past. This year she had picked a winner, she was sure.
“Now then,” Ursula signaled to her servants with her eyes, “About my concerns.”
“Rest assured, Madam Stanton, I will do my utmost to uphold the sanctity of this monumental occasion. Not even in my darkest dreams would I think of compromising the integrity of this event.”
“Your words warm my heart, Mister Kasbah. I am glad to see my faith in you was not misplaced.”
As Ursula spoke, a maid approached with a small briefcase. She set it at the foot of her mistress’ chair, making a show of nudging it slowly over towards Sinclair. Sinclair noticed, of course. He would have had to have been blind not to.
“Ah, oh my, and what am I to make of this, Miss Stanton?”
“Think of it as a gift,” Ursula smiled, her attention to the waves and the seagulls. “Just a little something to ensure your continued professionalism.”
There was the click of the briefcase, then silence. It was a very long time before Sinclair spoke.
“You…you can’t mean this.”
“I am the heiress Ursula Stanton, and I can mean whatever I want. I mean for you to be my friend, and would hope this token of my appreciation would go a long way towards making it mutual.”
There was another click. Sinclair had closed the briefcase, but he had not returned it.
“I don’t know what to say.”
“You don’t have to say anything. Silence is golden, after all. Like first prize.”
Sinclair nodded, fiddling with his cufflinks. Another maid arrived with an envelope and a letter opener on a tray. The contents of the envelope proved to be several interesting facts about the Korean peninsula, freshly printed and expertly sourced. Ursula skimmed them briefly before folding the letter and handing it back. Neither Ursula nor her guest heard the splash this time.
“Mister Kasbah, were you aware that the Korean won is currently a thousand on the American dollar?”
Sinclair smiled. He did not smile the day of the dog show, trapped in his bedroom with a doctor and a head cold. Ursula also found her smile escaping her, her program crumpling as Alexei Sayle took the judges podium for the second year in a row, in an emergency capacity he was quick to explain. The whole ceremony was over in thirty minutes; to Ursula, it felt like thirty years.
|# ? Aug 19, 2013 06:59|
I'll crit because this is the state of roads in my area for the entire day. I-It's not like I want to help you guys or anything--
I liked how you presented a believable committee meeting and all the arguments and tangents and the general aimlessness. The story read fast because of little-to-no attribution, which I'm fine with (at some point I kind of knew who was speaking, based on what they said), but it also had the nasty side effect of making me unable to identify who's talking. Which I guess is the point if everyone is talking at the same time, but the story would introduce a character speaking a line (like Liz), who is never mentioned again. It makes it hard to latch to anyone.
The only distinct characters in my head are Tobias and Mallory, and that's about it. Thank you for making me uncomfortable with Mallory, though.
I found little point in this little tale. It's barely coherent, starting off as some kind of hard-boiled journalist tale and ending up as a swashbuckling story? Trains with sails? At least the prose doesn't make it sound as stupid as it really is. Mickey meeting up with Wess felt disjointed from the other parts, too.
The first of many Alexei stories. The tone is light-hearted and I can forgive the exaggerated Russian voice because it's funny enough. I was going to rag on you about the twist ending but I looked up your Flash Rule and went, "oh". I guess the extreme arrogance should've been enough clue. What I'm wondering is if Alexei was competent in the first place to actually need importing dogs, but again this is another question that could be answered by UNRELIABLE NARRATOR!
Do bomb wires come in Apple white? Actually more coherent than I thought it would be, yet another "why would you write in that way-- oh Flash Rule" entry. This does read like stream-of-consciousness and if it's your first time writing it, I couldn't tell by just reading.
My complaint is that there isn't much of a point, and I vaguely wonder if the time spent reading would have been better used elsewhere. Guy gets a seat, hogs it, suspects a man for a terrorist, then realizes his mistake. That's intrigue?
Nice job on Rick. While Alexei was set to do something dastardly I did care for him, he didn't sound petty or whiny, just way out of his league and backed into a corner. One thing, though. There's a massive paragraph (should be obvious which one) that brings my reading pace to a halt, feels like it could be split into three. It's like I'm jogging leisurely then told to run a quick 10K.
Probably my favorite so far. Terse paragraphs and a brisk plot. Good dialogue, too. While I'm a fan of getting into a character's head, doing so would have ruined the story. Although I'm not sure if becoming caffeine-dependent could count as "corruption".
* * *
I'll follow up with more tomorrow or something.
|# ? Aug 19, 2013 14:29|
Aight, y'all got your poo poo in on time. I'll start reading.
|# ? Aug 19, 2013 15:23|
Holding to my promise this is a crit for the last person to enter the thunderdome before the gates shut. Did Bad Seafood ride in on a chariot made of bones pulled by sabre tooth tigers, or did BS stumble in with one shoe and a teaspoon?
Strong Impressions (790 words)
this feels rushed, and a super rich sexy lady buying the prize at a dog show is not the most interesting premise, so you have got to jazz it up. There is no description of the players, other than the guy is old. Is the lady young, old, sexy or ugly? malevolent or just idiotically evil? In the end she is just boring. It is up to noah to decide where the macguffin is, but I sure as hell didn't see one. If you were name dropping I missed the references, I hope you were because this does not stand well on its own. I mean it isn't even mentioned that she has a dog, we need to assume that, you could easily have had it on the deck right next to her.
Ambiguity is not a writers friend when it is meaningless and lazy. Here there was too much of that. No where near your best stuff, but if you disagree you know where the brawl is
On the summer scale : hail stones when you are at the nudey beach, and you catch one right on the nipple.
|# ? Aug 19, 2013 17:13|
Thanks. Good point, I fixed the paragraph.
|# ? Aug 19, 2013 17:23|
Followed the flash rule?: yes.
Will this matter outside of this small setting?: gently caress no.
I enjoyed this piece for its humor. The caricature of campus bible study group is exaggerated to the point of mockery, which sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. The Good Friday being too bloody is a spot where it works, them censoring themselves from swearing doesn’t (at least to me).
Now, as a piece of intrigue, I’m waffling on. If Mallory was infact the person who wrote the letter, backing the weak-willed fellowship director into a corner, then you’ve got something. If Mallory is just capitalizing on a bad moment for Tobias, then you don’t. If what you were going for is the former, then you need to play up that letter. This isn’t just the inciting incident, it’s the whole thread of your story. No one seems to focus on the fact someone wrote a letter. Perhaps you could have people try to bring it up, but Mallory deflects, a little too eagerly. Then there’s a little less ambiguity, is Mallory defensive, or is she just opportunistic? Right now, there are not enough clues in the context for me to truly get behind this as a work of intrigue.
I also want you to follow a character a little more closely. Tobias and Mallory are the key players here, but I’m not getting enough of their situation. You’re muddling it by making sure lots of unnamed people, or bit people, are getting their voice heard. I know this is a big group, and you alleviate it with having just spoken words attributed to no one, but let’s list off your characters: Max, Tobias, Jane, Vince, Rick, Sue, Todd, Mallory, Gwen, Steve, Jill, Liz, Jeff. You could easily cut that in half, and your story wouldn’t suffer for it in the slightest. You also have a habit of characterizing your dialogue tag instead of letting the word choice and the phrasing say it.
““We already bought all the ingredients for our baking,” sniveled Gwen” How does the word choice and the phrasing there portray her as sniveling? Would you know that she said it that way without the dialogue tag?
Take away the tag, and use words and syntax to portray the whininess. “But, we already paid for everything, what are we going to do now?” You breaking it up in the middle doesn’t let the dialogue complete before you’re TELLING us as readers how it’s said.
Noah fucked around with this message at 17:26 on Aug 19, 2013
|# ? Aug 19, 2013 17:24|
Followed the Flash rule?: Sorta.
Will this matter outside of this setting?: Also sorta.
What the gently caress did I just read? The problem you have with the absurdism is that it’s still disjointed. I had to re-read the paragraph about Wess Oakey/Orkney West to realize you meant that they were the same person, just switching names. Absurdist writing only works if you are incredibly clear in your descriptions and details. You need to run another pass over this, speaking everything aloud, and you’ll see where you get into really oddly phrased sentences.
Your story also reads like you wrote a 1500 word story and then fought to cut large chunks to fit it under the word count. There’s nothing wrong with going for just bizarre, but at the same time, it requires more hand-holding by the author to really pull the reader through. I know you have the entire story playing out in your head, but there’s wind-train stops that you’re just skipping along the way. You have to be more careful.
Follow the Flash Rule?: Yes-ish.
Does this matter outside of local setting: Not a bit.
As a story of intrigue, you need to set up the intrigue part at the very beginning. The story should start with how Mayor Anatoly has conspired against the narrator to cost him his job. THEN he starts the story of how that came to be. Right now, I had no idea that the narrator lost his job, because he starts off by saying he needs to import more dogs because he’s caught them all. Which, while I know is a lie, doesn’t indicate that he has already lost his job.
The thread that binds the story is WHY or WHAT. Right now, I’m just listening to a shaggy dog story with no impetus to see where it’s going. Tell me straight up, what has transpired, so that as a reader, I will go through this story with you, because really your story is less about the end than it is the journey.
As an unreliable narrator, you’ve gone almost a bit too far. Every fable has elements of truth in it, but there’s not enough mundane elements in the story. I know that sounds counter-intuitive, but you need a balance of fantastical and ordinary. Right now I’m being inundated with too much fantastic.
Flash rule: Yes
Your story suffers in the intrigue department because the revelation that a man might have a bomb is the integral part. That should come very, very close to the beginning, and the rest of the story is him trying to figure it out.
The other problem is that while in the end, it ultimately was nothing, the fact that it could have been a bomb on a train has huge ramifications. Even a false bomb threat can cause huge ramifications if they shut down a train.
I didn’t have a problem following the stream of consciousness, except for the open button. Trains have open buttons? I thought for a second he was on an elevator. Even if you put the seed/idea about the bomb in the beginning, you can still have him noticing everyone and commenting. He can’t help himself, even when there are more important things going on. I appreciate the end of the story was the bane of his existence, but the potential for it being a huge deal kills your hyper-local focus.
Flash Rule: Yes.
I like to think this is a meta-story. You’ve provided the real story of CancerCake’s tall-tale. The problem is, you have to read CancerCakes story first, and then read your story, because the intrigue at the end is really just the start of Alexei, Dog-Napper extraordinaire. I want you to turn this into a dog-cat story about Alexei trying to stay one step ahead of Rick Mason, but the reader knows that Rick is going to catch Alexei, it’s just a matter of when and how.
Competently written, though Rick does come off as a bit self-aware, which stains his immutable aura. I like the story, but as a stand-alone though I want the something meatier in the beginning. It could start with Alexei explaining saying how he got fired, or how he became a dog-napper, or how he murdered a man, anything. But I want the mystery to pop up sooner.
Flash rule: Yes.
What the gently caress is going on in Rassgart? I read this, had to take a break and eat something before I came back to this insanity. This is a good story, but light on the intrigue. You stuck more with your flash rule than with the over-all theme. There’s some spots where you need to go back through and re-edit, and also clean up the transitions a little better.
I’m going to be real loving disappointed if I don’t see anymore Alexei Sayal stories after this.
Flash Prompt: Yes.
Dog catching is the rage apparently. Your story did not feature any intrigue or mystery though, and while definitely meaningless political poo poo, there was no real reason for anything. Even as story structure goes, you need more of a beginning, middle, and end. While your interactions are humorous, and its competently written, it’s just not a story.
The Saddest Rhino
This is an incredible new story in the saga of Alexei Sayal. I have a few nitpicky things about clarity in your descriptions and transitions, but overall I admire the piece. The intrigue to me is why have all the dogs been banned, and even though I don’t get the answer, I want to know more.
However, it is getting harder and harder to judge the stories in a vacuum, as every Alexei story that’s come before it enhances the next. Rassgart’s a fuckin’ place alright.
Local: Everything is Rassgart. Rassgart is everything.
This Alexei is not like the others.
“She shot the dead animal a venomous look.”
Local: A sun rises like a blister over Rassgart.
Local: Rassgart hungers.
"Actually, I'm signing up for a membership."
Flash: Y / N. Stream of consciousness, but I’m not so convinced on your moment of surreality. If everything is surreal for this character, then there is no solitary moment of surrealness.
Local: Yes. Nothing that could happen to this person really will matter in the grand scheme of things.
However, your intrigue of Don trying to become manager is not played up enough. If that’s your thread that you weave through, you need to up the stakes. Did Don purposefully sabotage the newguy? Is Don willing to do something to Joan to ensure he’s a manager? Don conspiring to beat out Jesse is a strong motivation, but you don’t do enough with it, and get lost in the jumble that is Joan. There’s no intrigue to Joan, she’s self-harming and psychotic. There’s no secret clarity to her that she does anything with, so you’re barking up the wrong tree when it comes to who you should be following.
Flash: Yes, but I’d like it more horror, and less abrupt.
You have intrigue here, there’s absolutely political scheming, but this story goes well beyond the normal limits of local politics. This has the potential to effect millions of people, which is hardly considered a trivial matter. You have a good story here, though it almost seems like part of a bigger, grander narrative. You also have a protagonist that does not actually DO anything. He’s very passive. You need to have your characters driven to accomplish things. Your story lacks a general Beginning/Middle/End narrative structure as well.
Suggestion: Him having to be part of the decision to starve millions has to happen at the end of your first 1/3rd of the story which ultimately has to force him into a hole. The 2nd third of the story deals with him progressing through what he needs to do to get out of the hole, and the final third of the story involves the climax/resolution. Right now, this 1200 words you have is what the first third of your story really is.
Also: You’re not allowed to snake burbclave from Snow Crash and not get nailed for it here.
Local: Rassgart has a central park?
This story is really just Alexei talking about the thing he did. Why not write the story about him doing it?
Flash: Yagadoo, and I really enjoyed your slang. Poocher and corndog are my favorite.
Local: Dunno where Russgart is.
I honestly think this piece has fleshed out Alexei in such an enjoyable, jovial way. This is also seems to be the only story that has Alexei as a tertiary character, to show up, add flavor, and leave. The intrigue could be heightened a little, but I think you’ve done a good job at making a story that is both fun, complete and meaningless.
Flash: You tried to curveball it.
This is one of my favorites, the scope of the effort in the intrigue contrasted with the meaninglessness of the entire affair is spot on. You had more room to add in more details that I wish you would have taken. You could have easily gone on a tangent of Ursula ranting in her head about Alexei, which would make the end more poignant.
In the context of Alexei, you had plenty of room to also give him quirks or details, but I wonder if you let too many of your predecessors do it for you, without making Alexei a character of your own.
Noah fucked around with this message at 22:16 on Aug 19, 2013
|# ? Aug 19, 2013 17:44|
Winner: My choice for winner goes to The Saddest Rhino for a story that still kept it short, complete, yet spoke of a bigger world that was waiting to be explored. The prose and the imagery were a step above.
Honorables: Martello, Crabrock, Barracuda Bang!, Bad Seafood
Loser: I hate assigning a loser to someone who actually wrote, when there's a list of people who didn't even submit, but so it must go. The loser is unfortunately going to HaitianDivorce not for having an absurd story, but for having a really confusing piece of prose. Your transitions, clarity, and descriptions need a lot of fine tuning on this one.
People who need to take toxxes to submit again:
Bonus: I'm going to compile these Alexei stories into a nice looking pdf. It'll be fun. I'll post it when I'm done.
|# ? Aug 19, 2013 22:33|
Lol. This week...
crabrock: we should all agree to write about the town dog catcher. just because it'd be funny if everybody did that
crabrock: he'd be like "what the gently caress"
ErogenousBeef: Make it a serial.
~EchoCian: I approve.
ErogenousBeef: Except written in parallel and none of us talk to each other about anything except the name of the main character.
~EchoCian: Do it.
crabrock: it's political because uh... the town has no dogs
ErogenousBeef: Do it, Rhino
crabrock: and it's an appointed position
SaddestRhino: i'll do it if more people do
crabrock: by the mayor
crabrock: saddest rhino, i will really do it
Character's name should be Alexei Sayle
crabrock: (i don't know who that is and have never read that book)
crabrock: I wonder how may other people we can get in on this
~EchoCian: Too many stray dogs getting loose and putting people in danger, the town must do something about this! It's up to Alexei Sayle Earl the Pooch Poacher
ErogenousBeef: Rednecks always have three names
crabrock: what is the name of the town he lives in
SaddestRhino: would it be funny if you wrote your version in a US town and mine in a Malaysian town but we use the same name
~EchoCian: Crabrock City
SaddestRhino: let's do that
i'm going to to PM details to some other regular TDers and see if they want in
but I want to get all the shared info we'll use first
SaddestRhino: you the man crab
maybe just his name and his occupation, and we can do whatever we want?
crabrock: I think location is important too
but maybe he's a traveling dog catcher
that's why he shows up in different places
although that's not realy local
SaddestRhino: i'm fine with setting his location
just let me know details (since tomorrow I'm likely going to be busy at work the whole day)
ErogenousBeef: Just name the town Rassgart. Country unspecified.
crabrock: sounds good to me
what does that mean?
ErogenousBeef: It's Icelandic for "rear end in a top hat".
ErogenousBeef: Commonly used to describe a place, actually.
As in "this place is a windy rear end in a top hat".
crabrock fucked around with this message at 23:29 on Aug 19, 2013
|# ? Aug 19, 2013 23:10|
Rassgart welcomes you noah. join us
|# ? Aug 19, 2013 23:15|
It's always sunny here in Rassgart.
Except when it rains.
|# ? Aug 20, 2013 00:05|
Bonus: I'm going to compile these Alexei stories into a nice looking pdf. It'll be fun. I'll post it when I'm done.
Uhhh, feel free to correct the TYPO IN MY loving TITLE when you add it to the pdf.
|# ? Aug 20, 2013 00:26|
I still feel like an rear end in a top hat for not writing this week.
|# ? Aug 20, 2013 01:03|
Yeah, settle up. Hillock might need a toxx if he wants to show his face here again.
They've not responded to the PM I sent. Castigate them forever. And bring on the judgment for the duel, when time allows.
|# ? Aug 20, 2013 01:04|
Overall, I like the story. The conversations are quick and tense. You missed an opportunity to make Mallory into some devious political power player. As it is now, she's just some opportunistic little bitch (we all know one) who thinks she can do a better job. The dialogue is well done, yet the political intrigue is not as strong.
The first paragraph reads like a mess, HaitianDivorce.
"I hate this town," Mickey McKane said to everyone, all up and down the wide black boulevard of Patience, Arizona's main street, which was no one. Why couldn't you just say “said to no one.” or some variation there of? He skipped out of the shadow of the town hall, all decked up like Roman temple Show us how it was 'decked out like a Roman Temple', and spun around to face the Mayor's statue, seated in a throne ten feet tall. "And I can't wait to see you gone."
It's fluff, and if you read it out loud, it's awkward as poo poo. I'm not that great with grammar myself, so I won't continue to crit in this style. But seriously, read your prose out loud. Going through the story, if I didn't reread and study your prose, I would have no loving clue what I was reading.
Actually, let me take that back. I have no idea what the point of the story is. I'm so confused.
Let Rushing Dogs Lie
The first of the many awesome tales of Alexei! I wished I would have locked myself in a room and just written something. Onwards to the crit!
The descriptions of Alexei in comparison to the other councilors are hilarious and it often reminds me of myself, it also set a lighthearted tone to the tale and I can appreciate that.
At a few points in the story, you lost me because I didn't know that Alexei was talking to someone else; I assumed that it was just a regular story told in first person. In the context of your flash rule, it kind of gets a pass. I'm not too familiar with an untrustworthy narrator style of story telling, so I won't go into it too much.
kind of racist kind of misogynist but you know, probably not such a bad guy really if you got to know him. actually wait
When I first started to read your story, I pointed out the jumbled mess to my wife, claiming you lost your goddamn mind or something. Then I scrolled to the end and saw you had a stream of consciousness flash rule. Now I just with that people would post their flash rules at the top along with their title to make crits easier to do. Just because people don't think with capitalized words and apostrophes, doesn't mean you have to write it down that way. Make it easier on your reader, drat son.
The story is interesting, overall, just a pain in the rear end to read.
The Dogs of Love and War
Ooh, finally, some political backstabbery and true intrigue. I like how you described the crushing feeling of shyness Alexei has towards Lillian. I know many goons know what that feel like. Not me. I'm more like Rick.
When Rick is introduced, I felt that you overused the character names a bit too much in that one large paragraph. You could have split it into two paragraphs and made the prose neater.
I'm a fan on the dialogue and the continued references as to how Alexei looked like poo poo.
I honestly, don't have much to crit on this story. Good job Martello.
Sleeping Dogs Lie
I really like how you started the story. The first paragraph is strong and it evokes great imagery. It's just me, but I have no idea how University account holds, municipal internships or class ranks work. You didn't really explain it, just set it down and went on.
Your descriptions of all the characters are very amusing, and I enjoyed your portrayal of Alexei as this crazy buffoon who could injure himself tying his shoes without supervision.
I don't see much of an intrigue in this piece. It's more like Alexei is Inspector Gadget, and Tiffany is Penny and they're on this zany adventure to groom Alexei to become mayor. It's a nice romp, but I don't think it hit this week's focus.
Off the bat, I really like Earl. He's believable in his jack-assery and entitlement. Barry on the other hand, I feel like he was added just to end up as a side-kick to Earl.
The characterizations are great, I just don't feel there's much story here. Dude crashes a meeting, is mad because he doesn't have an office, then leaves and makes his own office. No real intrigue, just straight forward story telling.
What a hosed up premise man. I love dogs, and you're writing about extermination of dog's at the behest of a religious movement. You put a knife in my heart and twisted it, you magnificent bastard.
DOGMAN: The Bark Knight
I feel that a writer has done a great job when they illicit a strong reaction from their readers. I was getting a little mad, to be honest. I think you did a fantastic job. Just don't let your head get too big, rear end in a top hat.
I am confused as gently caress. Alexei condemned a dog to die, yet the dog is still running around leashed by his owner? I actually don't know the 'why' to whatever is happening in your story. It's not very clear at all. Sure, Alexei has to do the video and take the test. But if he knows all he questions, why does he have to watch the video? Couldn't he just taken the test and be done with it?
As a dog catcher, shouldn't the dog that was supposed to be put down, but either in a cage or already dead? Not still running around all free? Do I just not know how these things work? I dunno. Either way, there really isn't any political intrigue in this piece, besides Alexei having to take a test and arguing with the lady.
I will say this though, the banter between Alexei and that first lady was well done. Everything else fell short unfortunately.
Ooooh, the poor dog. I had an idea of what was going to happen midway and I couldn't stop reading. I cannot believe you let this old lady get away with puppy murder!! He was so friendly you son of a bitch.
Holy gently caress, I cannot believe how devious you made Mrs. Haskell out to be. Such a loving villain. Good work mang.
The Event! So mysterious... I wish I knew what it was! From what I can tell, the Mayor has Alexei under his thumb because of “The Event”. You got my imagination going wild with speculation, and I'm mad at you for not giving me closure! Heartless bitch!
Now the shrewd looking man, I'm not so sure about. He's just there at the end doing something shady with the Mayor and that's it. He doesn't really add a whole lot to the story, which doesn't really matter cause the story itself is great in the way it's presented. Even with the whole bit how Alexei couldn't get it up. Everyone knows that dude is virile like a horse, son.
Sometimes Work Comes Up
Schneider? What the hell happened man? Nothing loving happens until the very end. Seriously. First third, Alexei is working out. Middle of story, Alexei is out eating with some peeps; Tom is a dirty vegan. End of story, hippy vegan is imprisoned for starving a dog. I think your prose is strong and clear, but man, the plot is paper thin. You gotta work on that for next week, Nukka.
Anathema, I'm sorry man. I have no loving clue what's going on. Stream of consciousness is hard to write and a hard read I'm afraid. At least for me anyways. I'll give you a thorough crit next time around, I promise.
Keeping His Promise
Goddamit, there's something about corporate speak that makes me eyes go loving cross-eyed with boredom. Don't get me wrong Helsing, your prose is well done, I just had to focus extra loving hard as to what the characters were discussing, until the main character started hallucinating.
I was all like “Say whaaaaaa?” and then more corporate speak and my eyes glazed over again. I don't know. I really don't know why nothing plot wise grabbed me. The rat thing was cool though. Should have gone for weasels in my opinion.
A Dog Eat Dog World
Someone please correct me if I'm being loving stupid, but I think you're misusing italics in your prose, mang. Firstly, you should seldom use italics. Less is more; it loses it's punch if you over use it – and worse, you distract the reader. You don't need it for internal monologues either.
Many authors I've read use italics for foreign words, emphasis and using a word as a word. For example “How the gently caress do you pronounce Accretionist, Merc?” Even in that regard, it's best to avoid using it unless necessary.
Now to the actual story. Goddammit. All talk, no action. Nothing loving happens. “Blah blah I want that apartment!” Exposition. “Blah blah blah, I'm getting that apartment.” Story end.
I can appreciate how Alexei was a side character in this story, but the story itself, the plan that you set up for your characters to follow wasn't coherent in the slightest. Even at the very beginning when they discovered the possum and it was asked how it got into the building, all that was said is that the possum chewed threw through some screen in the romance section. Since you didn't elaborate what kind of screen, I had to assume the possum chewed its way out of a projection screen and the crew was attacked by a cartoon.
Going back to my original complaint, the plan set by your characters doesn't make sense. Not in the planning, and not in the execution. He wants to bring in Animal Control to catch a cartoon possum, but act like he's a library employee... who carries animal catching tools with him because..?
It's messy and it simply kills my suspension of disbelief. I mean, really? Cartoon possums?
Mercedes fucked around with this message at 04:29 on Aug 20, 2013
|# ? Aug 20, 2013 02:27|
Funny thing is that as crabrock revealed, there was no connection between the stories besides "Alexei Sayle, Rassgart Town Dog Catcher." I hadn't even read CancerCake's story until after posting. The Lilya/Lillian thing was completely coincidental.
They've not responded to the PM I sent. Castigate them forever. And bring on the judgment for the duel, when time allows.
Yeah he won't get back to me either. He posts about his stupid truck in AI but he refuses to respond to us or post in TD.
I'll hand down a judgment soon.
|# ? Aug 20, 2013 11:06|
Haha, I'm still surprised I won but thanks guys! Mad props to Chillock for the title and story-improvement tips, Crabrock and Erogenous Beef for arranging Alexei E.Sayle to be the best dogcatcher, and Noah for being an amazing sport about it (plus giving me the win, can't forget that). Can't wait to see the Russgart Chronicles.
THUNDERDOME WEEK 55 PROMPT
For those of you out of school, have you ever wondered what your life would be like if you learnt something completely different? For those of you still studying, do you wish you could be doing a completely different field and maybe find out what you truly love? Well, this week's dome won't help you realise those dreams, but you can still do some escapism and write it into paper and kid yourself to be less sad about your life!
Your task this week is to write a story about a School of A Certain Trade of Your Choice. The school must be one of people gathering together to learn something unusual or oddly specific. You may choose to write about the students, the staff, the teachers, the syllabus, or even the gay janitor or the campus dogcatcher. You could even describe the school itself like an Italo Calvino story as long as you make it interesting.
Notwithstanding the above, the school cannot be a magical school and especially not Hogwarts. (Evidently, no fanfics thx)
When you sign up, please include the full name of your school (which includes reference to the trade). If you cannot think of one, one of us (primarily Bad Seafood who thought up the prompt) will help you come up with a great school!
If your trade is loving rubbish we will do that as a flash rule too.
Also, your school cannot engage in a trade someone else has previously chosen so first come first serve!
Co-Judges: Bad Seafood and Crabrock
Word count: 1,500
Sign up deadline: 23 Aug 2013 (Fri) 11:59pm PST
Submission deadline: 25 Aug 2013 (Sun) 11:59pm PST
|# ? Aug 20, 2013 13:54|
I AM GOING TO WRITE A STORY OK
OK I HADN'T woah Caps Lock
I hadn't finished reading the prompt when I posted but my story is set in Orange Cake Baking School
Or maybe Academie d'Cake l'Orange because, as EroBeef pointed out to me, baking sounds better in fake French.
Chairchucker fucked around with this message at 14:11 on Aug 20, 2013
|# ? Aug 20, 2013 14:07|
|# ? Sep 27, 2021 17:06|
props to Chillock
Chillock recieves no props until he comes back to us and posts his thunderbrawl story
IF THAT CANADIAN BABY BITCH SADFACED BITCH MOTHERFUCKER WANTS TO POST IN TD AGAIN, HE BETTER TOXX A BRAWL AGAINST ME AND SEBMOJO, AND TOXX HIS NEXT TD ENTRY
|# ? Aug 20, 2013 14:32|