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  • Locked thread
Helsing
Aug 23, 2003

I'M ESCAPING TO THE ONE PLACE THAT HASN'T BEEN CORRUPTED BY CAPITALISM...

SPACE!


The Price of a Crown

1200 Words


Every nerve and sinew in Lavinia’s arms burned, and only the vast drop beneath her dangling feet kept her from relaxing her grip. With her right hand anchored on a dangling length of root she slowly raised her left and stretched up to reach for the ledge above her. Sweat pooled in her eyes and the sun’s rays seemed to beat even more fiercely upon her sunburned skin as she strained upward. She felt so weak she did not think she would reach the handhold, and for a moment her left arm dangled uselessly, refusing to rise.

Then the root she was gripping started to sag under her weight, and an avalanche of dirt and pebbles began cascaded down the crumbling rock. With a surge of pure will her left arm shot upward and her blood stained finger tips grasped the narrow ledge just as the root gave way. For a heart stopping moment she was sure she would fall. Instead she hung suspended from her left arm, and knowing that the end of her climb was close gave Lavinia a final surge of energy with which to grasp the ledge with both hands and haul herself up.

She lay there by the cliff’s edge, sucking air into her tortured lungs, trying to blink the sweat and tears out of her eyes. For just a moment she ignored the hot sun and the rocks poking her back, and marveled that she was still alive.

The plateau she had reached was covered in a riotous mass of brightly flowering bushes and rope sized vines, beautiful but too dense and tangled to be called a garden. Leading from the cliff’s edge deep into the interior of this overgrown thicket was a paved road of red brick that Lavinia now followed.

Balthazar was waiting for her around the first bend of the road, balancing himself on an ornate staff with an iron tip fashioned into the likeness of a snake. It was strange to see him without his crown and wearing only a robe rather than the gold and purple cloth of his office.

“You have made it.” He said simply.

“The others?” she asked.

Balthazar shook his head.

“Are you ready?” he asked her.

“I am.” She said. “Are you?”

“Oh yes,” answered Balthazar, and he smiled. “I do not fear death today.”

Perhaps in other circumstances the oddly conditional phrasing of that sentiment might have aroused her suspicion, but just then Lavinia was entirely focused on the task at hand.

At the end of the red brick path was an amphitheatre whose dimensions had been carved into the living rock. Here sat the entirety of the Atlantean Synod. Unlike Belthazar, the dozen men assembled there were decked out in elaborate robes and sashes that glistened with scintillate jewels and diamonds.

Lavinia watched as the faces before her melted into masks of bemusement, confusion or rage. Some of the seated men began to rise, others balled their hands into white knuckled fists or stamped their feet angrily. In an instant the atmosphere of pregnant anticipation became one of dissolute anger and rage.

“What is the meaning of this?” shouted one of the men who had leapt to his feat. Lavinia recognized him as Ahenobarbarus, Seneschal of the Northern Reach.

“Esteemed masters,” intoned Blathazar. “Only a single candidate has survived the trials, and she stands here before you—”

“Enough!” interjected Ahenobarbarus, “today you have over stepped your bounds Balthazar. In your pathetic quest to evade death you would make a mockery of our most sacred institution!”

Another of the seated men spoke up.

“Ahenobarbarus is right. It is improper to bring a woman before this Assembly.”

“As Hierophant I alone select who shall be an Acolyte,” replied Balthazar, speaking loudly enough to be heard over the frenzied mutterings of the Synod. “The tablets are unequivocal on this point. I selected them to be tried, just as you, My Lords, chose their trials. Here is the only Acolytes to survive those trials.”

“This is pathetic,” snarled Ahenobarbarus. “Are you so afraid of death that you must resort to cheap tricks?”

“I, for one, am impressed by his audacity,” said another of the men. “The Synod, tiring of his mismanagement, demanded that new Acolytes be tried so that a new Hierophant might be crowned. And our Balthazar, with his usual cunning, has found a loophole wide enough be a noose around all our necks.”

“I resent these implications,” said Balthazar. “But I shall not dwell upon them. The time for the final trial is at hand.”

“Beware girl,” said Ahenobarbarus. “This man has used you for his own ends.”

“My name is Lavinia,” she said, straining to hide any hint of doubt from her voice. “And I am no one’s pawn.”

“Then let the trial begin!” shouted someone else.

The men surged from their seats and formed a ring with Lavinia and Balthazar at its centre. A sword flashed free and was thrust into Lavinia’s hand. Another was offered to Balthazar but he waved it away. There was no pause, no moment to catch her breath in the aftermath of the climb.

An icy calm settled over her. She had long prepared for this. There could be no new life without death, and no Hierophant would rule Atlantis except by stepping over the body of their predecessor. But of all her trials Balthazar had promised that this would be the easiest – a mere formality – for he was old and had no desire to continue ruling.

There was no warning. No further discussion. Balthazar’s first attack was swift and brutal. In an instant the staff in his hands went from being a crutch to a weapon as he thrust its iron tipped head toward her face. Reflexively she pulled backwards, the staff sweeping close enough that she could feel the air displaced by its passing.

He doesn’t want to lose she realized desperately. She shuffled backwards to create distance but felt the pressing wall bodies behind her blocking off further retreat as Balthazar lunged forward to attack again. The staff swung at her head.

Lavinia was in no state to survive an extended duel. This time she stepped forward to meet his strike. She threw up her left wrist to shield her face and felt the bones of that arm snap under the impact of the blow. But even as she did she was driving her sword into his belly.

Balthazar groaned and the staff fell from his dead hands as he pitched backwards. Lavinia collapsed, grasping at her splintered wrist as fresh tears sprung to her eyes. The ground rushed up to meet her.

“Water!” she gasped.

“It seems that Balthazar outsmarted himself” said someone. “What shall we do now?”

“We shall do as we are told,” said another. “Bring the Hierophant water!”

I shall not squander this, thought Lavinia as she examined her ruined arm. Unbidden an image of the beggar children she often passed in the marketplace came to her. One of the many unused Acolyte dormitories might house them, and Balthazar’s crown alone might buy them a year of bread.

“Help me up,” she commanded. “There is work to be done.”

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V for Vegas
Aug 31, 2004

THUNDERDOME LOSER

Dumplings

Mother’s Older Brother went back into the small kitchen after breakfast and started making the filling. Taking the leftover pork from the previous day’s soy noodles, he slowly fed it into the bright red Dice-o-matic™ that Mother’s Older Brother’s Wife bought in Hong Kong. The said purchaser of the device stood next to him, her hard eyes watching him work. Slowly and methodically he dropped the pork, prawns, onions, ginger and bamboo shoots into the noise of the blades to be hacked into neat, uniform chunks like perfect miniature dice.

Adding to the cacophony, Mother’s Younger Sister was pouring flour and water into the Blend-It-Right™, its high pitch whine the soprano accompaniment to the snare drum of the Dice-o-matic™. Out of its gizzards came yards of soft dough which were then passed to Father’s Younger Brother’s Wife to place inside the SpeedKneader™ that rolled out long, pale snakes to its own steady, thumping beat. The SpeedKneader Dough Separation Attachment ™ cut each serpent up into inch long blobs.

With a noise like a woodsaw being scraped over a washboard, the Dice-o-matic™ shuddered and stopped.

“Aiya,” Mother’s Older Brother’s Wife cried. “I told you you were putting too much into that. You stupid idiot, you know how much that thing cost?”

With a long suffering silence, Mother’s Older Brother took down a cleaver hanging on the wall and swung the large blade to knock the Dice-o-matic™ back into alignment. With a satisfied grunt he put the cleaver back, and tapped on the switch. Dutifully the blades got back to work and the Dice-o-matic™ resumed its effortless, high-pitched disgorgement of minced fillings into the waiting bowl.

The production line continued as the dough and filling were carried out of the kitchen by cousin and I to the living room. Mother’s Younger Sister sat next to Mother as they both silently watched the New Year pageant on the new 50-inch ViewDeluxe™ television. Without even looking down, Mother’s Younger Sister would take up each chopped tube of pastry and slide it into the Flattenit™ sitting in front of her. With a sibilant hiss, the Flattenit’s™ piston would drive down on the dough, forming a perfect three inch circle that Mother’s Younger Sister would pass to Mother.

Before Mother sat the new, silver X-85 DumplingMaster™. A funnel on top was kept full of filling hauled in from the Dice-o-matic™. Mother took the circle of dough from Mother’s Younger Sister and placed it on the special plate on the side of the machine and pressed the big green button. With a deep rumble, as if the DumplingMaster™ was reaching down through the floor, through Mrs Shen’s apartment and on to the centre of the Earth, the DumplingDeliveryPortal™ opened and out tumbled one dumpling.

We sat at the table, quietly eating the dumplings and watching the commercial for the new X-100 DumplingMaster™. With a soft blink, the power went out. Everyone froze, looking at each other in the muted sunlight filtering in through the window. I took a deep breath.

“Thank you Mother’s Older Brother and Mother’s Older Brother’s Wife for making the filling.”

“Thank you Mother’s Younger Sister for making the dough.”

“Thank you Father’s Younger Brother’s Wife for kneading the dough.”

“Thank you Mother, for making the dumplings.”

Silence. And then we all started talking again.

ThirdEmperor
Aug 7, 2013


SCREAMING YES
MOTHERFUCKER
I AM GUILTY, I AM DEATH


The Jumping Man -1058 words

10...

On the street below people began to chant out the count as the globe descended, in perfect synchronicity with it's grander double some six hundred miles away in Times Square. Compared to the raucous festivites of New York the event held here was quaint, done by halves, but that fit the character of the town to a T. A globe of plywood strung with old golden Christmas lights and a crowd of rich old coots who's idea of a 'wild time' was staying up past eleven; That was about the perfect snapshot of life in Bettensway, South Carolina.

5...

There in crowd was everybody who liked to think they mattered. The mayor, arm-and-arm with his wife and holding his third martini of the evening in the other hand, doling out a paint-by-numbers speech to the cameras of the local news. Adam Canston, the chief of police and a man of strong, handsome features, enduring with a patient stoicism the drunken flirtations of women twenty years his senior, all the while watching the pretty newslady interview the mayor and prayed she might talk to him next. The Reverend Hues and Charles Plimy, his deacon, both oblivious to the growing annoyance of those around them as they rattled on about the evils of what was being taught in school these days. Every one of them a self-described pillar of the community.

Sitting on the steps of city hall, far enough from the party that all the voices blended into one tremendous jumble of pointless noise, was Ed Newt, fire marshal, along with four off-duty firemen who had nothing better to do that night. They drank watered-down cocktails purloined from the buffet table and shared a pack of smokes amongst themselves as they waited, an old trampoline life-net sitting on the ground between them.

3....

While the mob worked their way towards a fever pitch, the firemen stubbed out their cigarettes on the stone lions that guarded the steps and hoisted the life-net, at the ready. Ed stepped back, cupping a hand over his eyes as he scanned the brim of the city hall roof, looking for a silhouette among the garlands of light and tinsel left over from the holidays. There was no such shadow to be seen and his brow furrowed up with confusion and worry.

1...

All across town, rockets screamed into the sky trailing bright sparks behind and exploded into splashes of color against the night. Elsewhere, people cheered or kissed or tilted back another beer. But the crowd outside city hall held their breath a little longer, following the Marshall's gaze to the roof and waiting on the grand finale of a proper Bettensway's New Year.


And as the opening seconds of January the 1st, 2013 slipped away, as the crowd's anticipation died into disappointment, Ed Newt was He ordered one of his men around the left side of the building and went running to cover the right himself, but to his great relief there was neither hide nor hair of the guest of honor to be found, either on the rooftops or the pavement below.
For the first time in eleven years, The Jumping Man had missed an appointment.
******

The whole ceremony had been introduced back in 2001, when the graduating class of that year built and presented the globe as, according to the cue cards their teacher had written out for them, 'a gift to the wonderful community of Bettensway, which had done right by them and their education.' On the same night they held the first drop, by the golden light of the globe the crowd saw a man throw himself from the roof onto the steps below. Luckily, there was a doctor among them still half-sober and the man lived to be discharged from the hospital and sent to a psychiatric ward.

Within three months he'd wormed in his way out of the mental institution, and the next year and all the years after that the Jumping Man lived up to his name, despite all attempts by the police to keep him away from the roof. In a larger town with proper institutions, he probably would've ended up wearing a straight jacket for life. In Bettensway, he simply became part of the local flavor, to the point where they soon gave up on having him committed and simply stationed the firemen outside city hall to catch him each year.

After all, he was harmless.

With small town living being as it was his name could hardly be expected to stay hidden long, despite the refusals of both the police and the hospital to release it, and quite soon it was a secret in name only. But beyond his name, nobody could really claim to know him. He was a quiet man who lived at the edge of the suburbs with his old mother, turning away all the visitors who came by after his leap, only ever seen outside his house at church or shopping for grocery.

In fact, it was how quiet he was that made him such a figure of myth in Bettensway; The enigma of the polite fellow with the small, sad smile who tried to take his own life every year. People couldn't help but wonder what could have happened to make him want to end it all, or why he didn't simply swallow a bottle of pills instead of leaping again and again.

After he'd gone, most people began to think he'd done just that. Or maybe he'd hung himself and his mother had hidden the body, or even better, maybe he'd rigged up some complex method of suicide that didn't leave anything behind at all. As time wore on and the Jumping Man wasn't seen at church or the grocery store, the rumors only got more lurid and ever more horrible deaths were ascribed to him.
******

The next year, as the town handyman prepared to hoist the globe onto it's perch and flicked the lights on and off to make sure they still worked, he found scratched on the plywood an inscription in small, spidery writing:

No need to worry about me, I'm alive and well
I won't be jumping anymore, after twelve years I've gotten the message:
I can't seem to fall without a friend showing up to catch me.

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

Rattled
(1,152 words)

"Rattlesnakes." Danica said the word slowly, as though the sound of it would make sense of a senseless world. "They're worried about the rights of rattlesnakes now."

Quentin's office chair creaked as he let his full weight slump against its back. "That's what the activists say. That, and they're gonna drag us to court if we keep holding the round-up. Sue us seven ways to Sunday."

"They'd lose."

"Yeah, well, the town's not got the funds for a fight like that."

Danica rubbed at one side of her face. "Quentin, we can't not do the round-up if we want funds for anything at all." Rattlesnakes, more specifically the capture and execution thereof, were all that ever brought tourists to Sugardrink, Texas; tourist dollars were all that let the town pay its bills to Uncle Sam. Danica eyed the torso-sized cardboard container sitting on Quentin's desk. Maybe the mayor had stashed a secret slush fund in there--how else could he be grinning now?

"You say that like I haven't been thinking," he chided her. "I've got a plan--and this may not be all bad. You wanna guess what's in this box?" He stood before she could answer, and he tipped the thing over and let its contents spill out.

Hundreds of segmented plastic snakes--neon green, electric blue, pale pink, red, purple--clattered onto the desk, the floor, and Danica's lap. The bright eye spots on their backs goggled up at her with unwarranted cheer.

Quentin asked her, "Well?"

Danica dug at one of the spots with her fingernail. Its edge peeled: a sticker, none-too-well applied. "You'll be wearing your pants on your head next," she told him.

"Wait 'til you see this before you decide I've gone slow," he said. He dug a remote control out of his pocket and turned it on. Something deep in the snake pile rrrr-ed. Danica shoved aside a rainbow of bodies until a green snake shot out from the melee on little wheels, off the edge of the desk, onto the floor, and out into the hall, where she heard it strike a baseboard. "Peter at the electronics store got us a bunch of these motors!" Quentin crowed. "Ain't it a hoot? I'll tape some Mexican jumping beans to the tails. We can't control many of 'em this way, of course, but Peter swears he'll come up with something better."

"Quentin--"

"Oh, I know, it looks dumb as poo poo. Pardon my language. But listen: just this year, we're gonna round up these fake snakes. Every news channel, every blog will be on our crazy hick stunt like ticks on a deer's rear end. We'll sell merchandise. Give prizes. And when nobody's paying attention anymore, we go take care of the snakes like always."

"And next year?"

"I'm thinking the activists will find a new target by then. Want to bet against it?"

Danica had to admit she did not.

***

So it happened that five months later Danica found herself one of thousands of people behind a starting line made of countless snake segments, holding a leather bag and a snare pole. She'd dressed as a snake hunter should, boots and sturdy pants and all; most of the people around her had on pink, green, or blue souvenir tees. The stereo system set up nearby played "Rawhide" and "Cold-Hearted Snake" in endless succession.

"All right, y'all!" Quentin's voice boomed through a bullhorn. He sat on a platform beside Peter and a thin little woman whose smile set Danica's teeth on edge: Ms. Purvis, the activists' representative, there to oversee the event. "The round-up starts now! Get out there and get you some snakes!"

The wild land bordering Sugardrink vanished behind dust, and a hellish chorus of whoops temporarily drowned out Paula Abdul.

Danica cut west, toward the old drive-in theater. She outpaced many of the tourists and was more-or-less alone when she reached the overgrown lot, the neglected screen, both relics of civilization that the countryside had reclaimed. Heat had seared the tall grass brown. The purple snake caught in the stuff was thus easy to see. Danica looped her snare around its neck and pulled it out; its tail and payload of jumping beans were missing, God knew where, but its programmed motor whirred, and its beady blue eyes looked happy nonetheless.

Somehow the thrill just wasn't there. When an orange snake rolled by a minute later, Danica let it go.

She sat for hours in what had once been a social hot spot, ignoring distant shouts as tourists added to their hunting tallies, looking up at the screen and picturing the rest of Sugardrink similarly destitute. She grabbed the purple snake in her bag and hauled her arm back to pitch it into the grass--but she stopped. The toy wiggled in her hand, courtesy of the gizmo attached to it. It felt alive in that dead place.

Danica slipped it into her pocket and started for home.

She nearly kept walking through the buzz that broke into her reverie, but she was a born daughter of Sugardrink and knew the difference between beans and a true rattle. She stopped cold. The Western Diamondback coiled not five feet from her boots drew its head back, still rattling but clearly prepared to strike.

Its head snapped forward--

And was stopped by Danica's snare before the fangs could bite through leather.

Adrenaline wild in her blood, Danica considered the struggling killer... and she smiled.

***

"What have you got, Dani?" Quentin asked when she brought her bag up to him.

"Something I think Ms. Purvis is going to love," Danica said, and she crossed the platform to where the activist sat and dropped the bag in her lap.

Inside, a heavy, meaty weight that couldn't possibly be accounted for by plastic thrashed once. Ms, Purvis's smile died as she screamed and flung it away, then scrambled out of her chair and fled with all the speed and grace of a motorized snake: she fell off the platform to land in her butt on the dirt.

"You all right, ma'am?" Quentin shouted.

"Get rid of that thing!" the woman yelled back. "Kill it!"

Quentin's shoulders shook. "Peter, I think Ms. Purvis is kinda upset. You want to take her to get a cold drink or something?"

When they'd left, Danica reclaimed her bag and opened it so Quentin could see the rattlesnake corpse inside. "She ought to have known they still twitch a bit when they're dead, if she's such a fan," she said.

"Is that a motor tied to that thing?"

"Maybe."

"Danica," Quentin sighed, but he couldn't keep the grin off his face. "Really, now."

"Just doing my part to make the round-up lively," Danica said. "And do you want to bet, after a scene like that, that we'll have trouble from this particular group again?"

As she'd expected, he did not.

Chairchucker
Nov 14, 2006

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

That’s the Spirit 473 words. Hmmm, I'm not sure if I've changed this enough from reality...

The four uniformed figures, three men and one woman, had reached the memorial and were coming to the present arms position. Sleeves were rolled up and all four of them flexed. “Bloody beautiful,” said Wazza to Robbo. “That’s the ANZAC spirit, right there.”

One of the men fell over, onto his face. Robbo shook his head. “Young guy needs to learn to pace himself. Getting plastered before the parade, that’s a rookie error.” An attendant dragged the fallen soldier over to one side, where he was sprayed with water and handed a coffee. A cheer went through the crowd as he wobbled to his feet and resumed his place.

And then some old guy in a robe got up and said some words, but Robbo and Wazza didn’t bother hanging around for that. He was talking about fallen diggers or something. He probably meant the ones down at the quarry; some drongo had gotten into one of them after a few beers and tipped it over. Wazza and Robbo made their way down to the pub.

They went by foot. It was close enough, and neither of them fancied being designated driver. Kev was behind the bar, and had clearly started without them. “Morning lads,” he said. “Joining in the two up comp?”

“Rum first,” said Robbo. “Can’t have ANZAC Day without rum; that would be against the ANZAC spirit.” Kev nodded. No, you most certainly could not, and yes it most certainly would. He filled both of their glasses and then refilled them after they’d both thrown them back.

“G’day fellas.” Sunil had just pulled up a stool next to them.

“Get out of my country,” said Wazza.

“Steady on,” said Robbo. “It’s not Australia Day.”

“Oh, right. I always get them confused. Sorry mate, your first one’s on me.” Sunil shrugged and accepted the free rum. “Hmmm, do you think I should take the flags off me ute, too?”

“Nah,” said Kev. “Just leave ‘em on for nine months, you’ll be ahead of the game.”

The three men made their way over to the two up, still holding their rum. It was just about to begin, and Robbo and Wazza had a System. The System involved misdirection and sleight of hand, which jealous and less successful two up players might’ve called ‘cheating’, but what did they know, they didn’t understand about the ANZAC spirit which had to do with larrikinism or something.

On this occasion their System did not work very well, on account of the two up head honcho noticed them moving their hands and told them to bugger off.

“No sense of humour, that man,” said Robbo.

“None at all,” said Wazza. “Doesn’t understand the first thing about the ANZAC Spirit. Wanna go over to the cemetery via the bottle o?”

“Cheers to that,” said Robbo.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002

aka sticklegs



Grimey Drawer

Functional Notation
843 Words


Nolan had hated sports since he dropped the fly ball that lost his team the championship. He couldn’t run, hit, catch, or throw, but his dad and his dad before him had all played little league.“We’ll put him in right field; the ball never gets hit out there,” his coaches had said. He was always better at math, and later in life he’d learned about probability. His dissertation focused on stochastic models and he’d earned tenure studying Monte Carlo integration. But at eight years old, with a ball falling toward him, he assumed it was all the design of a God who hated him.

His son looked up at him from the field and waved. Nolan smiled and nodded back. Ryan went back to playing with the grass he’d torn from the ground, letting it filter through his fingers and get caught in the wind. The kid couldn’t run, hit, catch, or throw, but he loved putting on the uniform and getting a soda with his friends after the game.

“Keep your head up, Right Field!” yelled the coach from the dugout.

The metal benches had grooves that cut off circulation, and rivets that snagged slacks. One had to sit with their knees in their chest and their arms crossed if they did not want to rub up against another parent. Nolan could sit through whole games wondering what those grooves were for and trying to shake the cramps out of his legs without kicking anybody. He had a stack of exams to grade and a grant deadline looming, but he remembered how it felt to look up to an empty spot in the bleachers.

A short kid with a uniform that he could “grow into” struck out. Ryan was distracted from the inside of his glove by the shouts of his teammates. Losing never bothered Ryan, but he still jumped up and down and joined the huddle of his celebrating teammates.

Nolan stood and rubbed the seat of his pants. The other parents never exited the bleachers fast enough, and he tried not to step on their heals in his haste to get to solid ground.

A mustachioed man with no sleeves approached and gave him a jocular smack on the shoulder. “A couple of us are taking the kids out to pizza. Ryan is invited, if you wanna bring him.”

Nolan put his hands into his pockets and felt the bottle he hid. “He’d love that.” Nolan had always hurried to his mother’s smoke-filled station wagon after his games; he didn’t want the other kids to see her stumbling around yelling for him. He never got invited to pizza.

Ryan jumped in the air and twirled around at the news of the impromptu dinner. In the car, he could barely contain his excitement.

“I almost hit the ball today, did you see?”

“I did. You’re getting better. You’re already better than I ever was.”

“Did you ever hit any home runs?”

“I don’t think I ever hit the ball, period.”

“Never?”

“You get on base 100% of the time you get hit by the ball.”

Ryan laughed and spent the rest of the ride trying to decide which he liked more: pepperoni or sausage, by examining the relative merits of each.

The pizza place’s windows were filled with blinking neon signs for beers on tap. Nolan recognized the names, but not the logos. He still thought of them as they had been when he’d walk to the corner store with his dad’s money to fetch a case. Back then the logos were elegant and regal, belying the passed-out, drooling fathers they created. Now they were stylized and energetic, as if each brand were a team, and beer was a sport.

“Aren’t you gonna turn the car off?” asked Ryan.

“What? Oh, yes. You run on ahead without me. I need to make a phone call and I’ll be right in.”

Ryan didn’t wait for any further instructions; the other boys were already moving through the door. After he disappeared inside, Nolan took the flask out of his pocket and hurriedly unscrewed the cap and took a swig. He stopped himself after one more, closed his eyes, and let his head fall against the headrest. The warm familiar feeling washed away the unpleasantness of the last few hours, and steeled him for the rest still to come.

Upon entering the parlor, the man in the mustache slapped a chair next to him. “Grab a seat.”

Nolan looked over at his son, who was mixing each flavor in the soda fountains. In two hours they’d be at home. Ryan would be in bed, stuffed with pizza, and Nolan would be drifting off to sleep in his chair with a half-empty bottle. In the morning he’d be showered and dressed, ready to take Ryan to school. Though the odds were never in his favor, there was a small probability that he might be able to raise his son right. While that was still a non-zero possibility, he had to keep trying.

Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart


Submissions are now closed.

The Saddest Rhino
Apr 29, 2009

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


The Saddest Rhino posted:

I look forward to reading not-terrible stories, ha ha!

Goddammit

Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart


Thunderdome Week LXI Resultspost!

So I rushed down the stairs this morning to open all of your presents to me. Okay, that's a lie. I live in an apartment and there's no stairs inside.

But I still tore into the week's entries, leaving a trail of lovely wrapping paper all over the city, and... and.. I got a dick in a box. Sigh. Most of you went for something obvious, and I'd like to give a particular shout-out to all those submitting stories where "oh no, it's a (woman/man) instead of a (man/woman)!" Congratulations, you won a one-way ticket to not-winningsville!

But one of you took it further. One of you wasn't sure where to step off the mediocrity train. In fact, one of you is still dissembling over their moniker, their story's setting, and whether or not the judges can spot a bad Internet paraphrasing of The Wicker Man: CantDecideOnAName. Fortunately, I can decide on a title, and it is Loser.

In the midst of all this, one person did something a little different. One person also won.

The Winner is Crabrock, for writing a sadly-heartwarming slice-of-life tale of a father trying to break a family tradition of alcoholism while keeping with the tradition of Little League. There's some minor problems, which I'll get into during the crits proper, but you can carry on our own tradition and get us a goddamn prompt already.

A honorably-mentioned read was also presented by V for Vegas, but your Tale-o-Matic LifeSlicer has a few screws loose - particularly, was this supposed to be flippant comedy or somber social commentary? Hard to tell, and it hurts the piece, like biting into a rat's foot at the center of your dumpling.

Proper crits to come.

Erogenous Beef fucked around with this message at Oct 7, 2013 around 19:14

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002

aka sticklegs



Grimey Drawer

I would just like to take the opportunity to remind everybody that Hugo Boss made uniforms for the nazis (this is correct winning-something etiquette, right?)

Helsing
Aug 23, 2003

I'M ESCAPING TO THE ONE PLACE THAT HASN'T BEEN CORRUPTED BY CAPITALISM...

SPACE!


Enough Fascist Fashion chat, give us the prompt!

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002

aka sticklegs



Grimey Drawer

Week LXII: Thunderdome Against Humanity

It's one of those weeks where you sign up and I give you something. In addition to herpes, you will be saddled with a pair of cards from the card game "cards against humanity" [SERVER ERROR: QUOTE OF THE WORD 'CARD' EXCEEDED FOR A SINGLE SENTENCE]. These are usually non-nonsensical, and always inappropriate.

The only rule is that your story must involve somebody telling a story. Think of when we first hear about Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, or the Princess Bride. The characters aren't immediately in the inciting incident, but they are tied to it somehow. You can have your entire story just be a campfire story, or have somebody go on an epic quest because of a story they are told. Who the hell knows, YOU FIGURE THIS OUT FOR YOURSELF.

Co-Judges: crabrock, Erogenous Beef, Sitting Here
Signup: by Friday, midnight EST
Submit: by Sunday, midnight EST

Word Limit: 20,000 / # of signups FROZEN at 666 words
ie:
5 signups - 4,000 word limit
10 signups - 2,000 word limit
15 signups - 1,333 word limit
20 signups - 1,000 word limit

I'll announce after signups close the official word limit. If somebody drops out (LIKE A CHUMP) you may cannibalize their word counts among yourselves. Write a lot of words, and as the word limit goes down, cut out all that poo poo that I don't want to read.

Example of what you'll get:



Potential Chumps:
01.) DocKlock: Dear Abby, I'm having some trouble with [Eating the last known bison] and would like your advice.
02.) Systran: During sex, I like to think about [poor people].
03.) Mercedes: I never truly understood [seppaku] until I encountered [some god-drat peace and quiet].
Mercedes Clause: No Cussing, Genderswapping, or Guns (cussing about peace and quiet is ok)
04.) V for Vegas: Why am I sticky? [Vigilante justice.]
05.) sebmojo: I got 99 problems but [object permanence] ain't one.
....4,000 word limit
06.) ThirdEmperor: Life for American Indians was forever changed when the White Man introduced them to [centaurs].
07.)Jeza: Lifetime presents [Sunshine and rainbows], the story of [racism].
08.)Noah: The class field trip was completely ruined by [getting so angry that you pop a boner].
09.) Walamor: What's the next superhero/sidekick duo? [Aaron Burr] [An erection that lasts longer than four hours]
10.) Helsing: Rumor has it that Vladimir Putin's favorite delicacy is [a lifetime of sadness] stuffed with [menstrual rage].
....2,000 word limit
11.) Accretionist: When I am President of the United States, I will create the Department of [The Homosexual Agenda].
12.) dmboogie: In a world ravaged by [kids with rear end cancer], our only solace is [being fat and stupid].
13.) Auraboks: White people like [a super soaker full of cat pee].
14.) Nikaer Drekin: [Overcompensation] is a slippery slope that leads to [catapults].
15.) ScaryJen: Major League Baseball has banned [the profoundly handicapped] for giving players an unfair advantage.
....1,333 word limit
16.) Tyrannosaurus: Studies show that lab rats navigate mazes 50% faster after being exposed to [cuddling].
17.) Fumblemouse: [Alcoholism]+[Flightless birds]=[picking up girls at the abortion clinic]
18.) SurreptitiousMuffin: Daddy, why is mommy crying? [Science].
19.) BadSeafood: For my next trick, I will pull [a tiny horse] out of [rehab].
20.) Horrible Butts: I'm sorry Professor, but I couldn't complete my homework because of [An M. Night Shyamalan plot twist].
....1,000 word limit
21.) Baggy_Brad: [Wiping her butt.] That's how I want to die.
22.) Martello: In M. Night Shyamalan's new movie, Bruce Willis discovers that [a micropenis] had really been [my vagina] all along.
23.) Vlishgnath: MTV's new reality show features eight washed-up celebrities living with [a gassy antelope].
24.) The Saddest Rhino: In 1,000 years, when paper money is a distant memory, how will we pay for goods and services? [Funky fresh rhymes].
25.) docbeard: [A monkey smoking a cigar]: kid-tested, mother-approved.
....800 word limit
26.) Robot Hobo: In L.A. County Jail, word is you can trade 200 cigarettes for [being on fire.]
27.) Jagermonster: Coming to Broadway this season, [Children on leashes]: The Musical
28.) Symptomless Coma: A romantic, candlelit dinner would be incomplete without [autocannibalism].
29.) justcola: What will always get you laid? [Teaching a robot to love]
30.) Flea Wars: What would grandma find disturbing, yet oddly charming? [Roofies].
...666 word limit. FROZEN HERE
31.) twinkle cave: What's the next happy meal toy? [The placenta].
32.) Dirty Communist: What's there a lot of in Heaven? [Taking off your shirt]

crabrock fucked around with this message at Oct 14, 2013 around 02:14

Dr. Kloctopussy
Apr 22, 2003


Realized chump.

angel opportunity
Sep 7, 2004

Total Eclipse of the Heart

In.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002

aka sticklegs



Grimey Drawer

Dr. Kloctopussy posted:

Realized chump.

Mercedes
Mar 7, 2006

"So you Jesus?"

"And you black?"

"Nigga prove it!"

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


In. Can't have you sons of bitches forced to write 5000 words all by your lonesome.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002

aka sticklegs



Grimey Drawer


crabrock
Aug 2, 2002

aka sticklegs



Grimey Drawer

Mercedes posted:

In. Can't have you sons of bitches forced to write 5000 words all by your lonesome.

Mercedes Clause: No Cussing, Genderswapping, or Guns
(cussing about peace and quiet is ok)

V for Vegas
Aug 31, 2004

THUNDERDOME LOSER

I've never played this game so this will have to do. Signed.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk

In with a since I failed to submit last time.

sebmojo fucked around with this message at Oct 7, 2013 around 22:13

ThirdEmperor
Aug 7, 2013


SCREAMING YES
MOTHERFUCKER
I AM GUILTY, I AM DEATH


In.

Jeza
Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.


In.

Noah
May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch


Oh hey, I'll throw in.

Walamor
Dec 31, 2006

Fork 'em Devils!


This is fantastic. In!

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002

aka sticklegs



Grimey Drawer

V for Vegas posted:

I've never played this game so this will have to do. Signed.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002

aka sticklegs



Grimey Drawer


crabrock
Aug 2, 2002

aka sticklegs



Grimey Drawer


crabrock
Aug 2, 2002

aka sticklegs



Grimey Drawer


crabrock
Aug 2, 2002

aka sticklegs



Grimey Drawer

Noah posted:

Oh hey, I'll throw in.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002

aka sticklegs



Grimey Drawer

Walamor posted:

This is fantastic. In!

Helsing
Aug 23, 2003

I'M ESCAPING TO THE ONE PLACE THAT HASN'T BEEN CORRUPTED BY CAPITALISM...

SPACE!


I'm in.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002

aka sticklegs



Grimey Drawer


Accretionist
Nov 7, 2012



I'm in.

dmboogie
Oct 4, 2013



This should be interesting. In!

Auraboks
Mar 24, 2013

...huh?


Been out too long. In.

Nikaer Drekin
Oct 11, 2012


Aaghhh this is probably a bad idea on my part, but this prompt seems like a lot of fun. I'm IN

ScaryJen
Jan 27, 2008

Keepin' it classy.


Holy poo poo, this looks fun. I'm in!

Tyrannosaurus
Apr 12, 2006

I failed to submit because I was so excited about New Zealander Tim Price winning the Burghley Horse Trials on the quirky but freakishly talented Ringwood Sky Boy

This looks fun. I'm in.

Fumblemouse
Mar 21, 2013


STANDARD
DEVIANT


Grimey Drawer

In.

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010

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


Sure, why not.

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