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  • Locked thread
Aug 2, 2002




Just Beef It. Beef It. Beef Takes a Dick and Eats It

I’m a wasp, and even I know how hosed up it is to lay my eggs in spiders. It makes people squeamish to think about it, but they excuse it because they think it’s part of my nature. It’s not. It’s just something hosed up that I do. I could lay my eggs in a hive like a normal wasp, but it’s more fun to plunge my stinger deep into the abdomen of an unconsenting tarantula and just pump away. Feels good man.

There’s just something about entering an organism, laying your babies inside of it, and then watching from above as they burst out and consume it. You wouldn’t understand. It’s hard to explain.

I tried laying my eggs in somebody’s sandwich once. It was a joy to watch them eat all my eggs, but I watched and waited for days, and my babies never burst from the human’s stomach. I was understandably angry, and crawled around the top of his soda can for revenge.

Here’s the thing about injecting my babies into a large spider: I just do it because it’s funny. Sure it feels good, but so does stinging a horse on the butt, or laying my eggs in a catipillar. But spiders look so awkward walking around with all those legs, and to see them scrambling away in pain, destined to die just makes me laugh.

Other wasps tell me I need help. Maybe. I know it’s not normal, but does anybody really care about spiders? They’re not even wasps. They can’t think or feel like we can. If they could, surely they would see the humor in it.

Maybe I should stop. Just lay my eggs under a leaf, or build a little paper nest for them. Whatever I’m supposed to do. I honestly don’t know, because I haven’t explored any other avenues of gestation. Whenever I try my stinger just goes limp. I couldn’t lay my eggs in jello when it’s like that. The only way to make me hard again is imaging those eight furry legs, crawling over a branch or under some fallen leaves, and me sliding deep inside. Ohhhh man. There it goes. Look at it. It’s loving impressive.

Do you hear that? The rustling of foliage? Well, can’t let an opportunity go to waste.
384 words
A wasp called the tarantula hawk reproduces by paralyzing tarantulas and laying its eggs into their bodies. When the larvae hatch, they devour the still living spider from the inside out. Isn’t that hosed up? Write a short story about how hosed up that is.


Jul 19, 2011

Word Bounty, Nothing About Beef Or Dicks At All
247 words
Write a scene showing a man and a woman arguing over the man’s friendship with a former girlfriend. Do not mention the girlfriend, the man, the woman, or the argument.

Ms. Jennifer Carlton, Lakeview Apartments
Dear Ms. Carlton:

I must ask, once again, that you please enforce the “quiet enjoyment” clause of the lease for all of your tenants. I was kept awake once again last night by noise from apartment 14-E, and was forced to make a noise complaint to the police.

J. Martin

Mr. Charles Lloyd, Lloyd Investigations
Dear Mr. Lloyd

I have enclosed the photographs and other documents which were erroneously delivered to my apartment, rather than Unit 14-E to which they were somewhat illegibly addressed. Given the sensitive nature of those photographs and documents, I did not feel it appropriate to deliver them personally.

J. Martin

Hi Bobbi,

I won’t be able to make it into work today. You may have read about the incident in my apartment complex last night. I am fine, if a bit shaken up; neither of the bullets that came through my wall hit me, but I did cut myself rather nastily on some broken glass, and spent a few hours in the emergency room. Between that and talking to the police, I didn’t get any sleep last night.

Whatever happens, I doubt anyone’s going to want me to testify, as I don’t know my (former) neighbors that well, and I was listening to music on headphones last night to try to drown out the noise (and it worked until the gunshots!)

I’ll tell you all about it on Monday.


Lazy Beggar
Dec 9, 2011

I'm bowing out of this week's comp. Sorry. Or, to the judges at least, you're welcome.

Lazy Beggar fucked around with this message at 15:30 on Nov 22, 2013

Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart
Two points of order.

(1) Y'all have about eight hours left to sign up. And about a day and a half left for word bounties.


Punch-Out Dreambrawl with Sitting "Blood Queen" Here

Hey Sitting Here, you don't get to welch on this a second time.

sebmojo posted:

:siren:“the conspiracy does not provide an answer so much as it provides an interminable narrative stretching towards an answer that never arrives.” :siren:

1000 words, give or take. And make them fuckin' good ones. Due Friday week 22 Nov, midnight PST.

Ceasefire (859 words)

The Germans sent us gas-shells as gifts; they were early, for it was only Christmas Eve. In my mask, I shoveled mud aside while, behind me, a squad stood in line and a lieutenant counted down. At zero, four more deserters joined the bodies awaiting holes. I planted crosses above nine bodies. The Germans had shot three. After the burials, I ate my bully beef beside an oil-can fire and sang carols with the others. The Enemy sang too. Their voices echoed across the icy Marne, and among the choir would be my childhood friends and my Elise.

The former I’d not seen since the shooting started. The sergeants shot the men who dared speak across the lines, to kindred or comrades. “Fraternization,” they said.

Elise and I had yet to pass a Christmas without a kiss. For a minute with her, I would stand confessional before a Saint Etienne and accept final reproach from its angry barrel.

The lieutenant ordered a dusk barrage and retreated to his concrete cubby while the sergeants mushed us into line along the trench and said aim and fire, fire, fire. I pointed my unmarked rifle skywards, pictured a cloud as a hound-rousted duck and shot, shot, shot.

The man beside me held a rifle whose stock was notched from trigger to shoulder. He stopped, reloaded, and scored another kill into the wood.

When our thunder ceased, my sergeant came, pistol drawn, and asked if I had seen the deserters this afternoon. I told him I was firing letters home to Alsace so the mothers there needn’t clutch their knitting over Christ’s day and await tearful news.

The sergeant sneered and asked the men who would volunteer to sentry on Christmas Eve. I raised my hand. He appointed Marchand instead, but Marchand and I were of the same village and, upon request, he offered me the post for five cigarettes, which I did not have for I’d smoked them all, but I traded my chocolate to others and secured a happy vigil on the Marne.

The post was near our dugout and I waited for my fellows to sleep. To pass the evening, I sang Les Anges dans nos Campagnes. A sniper bullet hit my tree and killed the melody.

The watch-whistle blew midnight, and I deserted and went down to the riverbank. In the middle of the lazy water was the appointed island, thickly treed and no bigger than a wagon. Logs had fallen by the shore after the day’s shelling. I rolled a thick, splintered trunk into the Marne and laid atop it and paddled with my hands to the shore of the little island. It was a hard thing to paddle, and too loud or too slow would draw lead from either bank.

On the little island I shivered and stuck my frozen hands in my armpits so they would not chill my darling Elise when she came, but the stars turned overhead and I remained alone, breath smogging the silent night.

Soon, a lark-call took me to the shore facing the Germans. I cawed and a white kerchief flashed once on the far shore. I mounted my faithful log over and swam it across. Near shore, the log rolled over, and I crawled up onto familiar and forbidden soil.

I was Marne-sodden, but no cold or numbness survived our scalding embrace, lip pressed on hot lip. We squeezed close and gave each other’s mouth our thanks for this third stolen Christmas night. She had a big wool blanket, and we swaddled ourselves together within it. Carefree in one another’s arms, we danced our silent celebration, an ember between frozen, hate-numb trenches.

Our fire burned fast and hot, and the final kiss blazed hotter still. Its warmth must carry the year. Our last embrace was a prayer. O God, shepherd us to next Christmas, to Noel in our own kitchen, goose and wine on the table, a lit hearth in the parlor.

Snow crunched. Boots. They’d found us. They’d shoot us.

I sprang naked from the blanket, clutching my rifle-barrel. A soldier in grey. He had a pointed helmet, a rifle on his back, a book in hand. I swung, and stock cracked skull. He fell to earth and lay still, and another letter awaited its sad journey home.

Elise sat in the snow, blanket-wrapped. Steam puffed from her nose and she looked at neither at the fallen German nor at me. Our uniforms lay apart on the earth. Hers was a nurse’s, a pure apron soiled with flecks of blood drawn for love and duty. My trousers and coat were a patriot’s horizon blue, a few shades off the fallen man’s field-gray.

I reached for her.

She put on her dress and ran away.

Cold crushed me. I struggled into my wet clothes and paddled to my post. I scratched a mark on my rifle’s butt and shivered, alone, until the morning star rose and Marchand came, yawning. I went to the dugout and lay down to sleep. In the frigid earth above my head, poppies dreamed of summer.

Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart

Erogenous Beef posted:

Hey Sitting Here, you don't get to welch on this a second time.

So, Sebmojo, my opponent has come crawling in supplication and wishes an extension until Sunday. I'm amenable, for I will go to the whisky bar tomorrow and her mortal dread of my wordpeen will spice every peaty sip.

autism ZX spectrum
Feb 8, 2007

by Lowtax
Fun Shoe
Space Kitchen 2135 (1181 words)

Somewhere in the Kuiper belt, a collection of thermionic valves grew slightly more negative. They pulsed in synchronized sine waves, but were in fact entirely unrelated.


Captain Jax Starfiend flipped a series of switches and slid the view-scope back into the console. A set of numerical indicator tubes hummed to life, the computer took over. He spun the chair around and addressed the crew.

“Fifteen minutes! You slags better get it movin’ or I’m spacin’ ya!”


Culinary Sergeant First Class McKinsley flipped a series of switches and slid the tray locks into place. A set of numerical indicator tubes hummed to life, the zero-g oven took over. He spun around in his mag-boots and kicked off towards the sanitization toroid.

He couldn’t help but feel proud. He knew he was going to win. He’d spent the last year developing a pie filling that stayed earth-like in zero gravity. The long chain polymerization was perfect, the viscosity was determined to three decimal places. When those jerks from the JaneyLane sent their Pie Judge, it was going to be a bloodbath.

“Kinsley! How’re the fuckin’ pies? We’re gonna be passing in fifteen minutes!” Culinary Rear Admiral Tonyson roared from the command pod.

“They’re done in fourteen,” Kinsley said.

“You’re pushing it drat close!” The Admiral diverted one of the robotic arms from the mechanical frenzy of food-plating and used it to flip McKinsley the bird.

McKinsley kept his arms at his sides as he floated through the toroid. The sanitization rays returned his clothes to a glowing black.

“Don’t let ‘im get to ya,” Culinary Private Second Class Dyson said, pulling himself through the toroid.

“You know how he gets. We all know you’ve been workin’ hard on that filling or whatever the gently caress. You almost had ‘em last year, man.” Dyson said.


“Captain, scanner’s showing a second station in a counter directional orbit to the first,” first mate Fitzblade said.

“Can you confirm?”

Fitzblade wiped blood off the display and reset the scanning crystals.

“Confirmed. It’s an older make, judging by the deutronic waves in the exhaust,”

“Leave it. The first will be enough.”

Fitzblade nodded silently, but did not approve of the Captain’s ego. Starfiend’s strategy was one of desperation, however. When he’d boarded the RenataViolent he’d done so under the assumption she’d be armed. The enterprising crew of the Renata had however chosen to replace the torpedo tubes with a distillery. Though not entirely a bad capture, Starfiend had doubts as to whether an escape capsule full of moonshine and deutronium cores could breach a station’s hull.


“Get me those pies, Kinsley!” Tonyson roared through the radio.

Kinsley watched the tubes tick down the last few seconds. The station shook so violently his mag boots clipped free and sent him crashing into a bulkhead. Mag-strainers careened across the kitchen pod, flashes of silver in the flickering light. Everything went dark. His ears popped and his helmet slid its glass visor into place. They’d lost atmosphere.

“T..Tonyson? Dyson? Anyone?”

The silence was deafening. The communication controller was dead. His heart raced, condensation built up on the inside of his helmet. Disjointed words and Technicolor memories from the Culinary Space Academy came flashing back.

In the highly unlikely event of a computational failure, your suit is equipped with semaphore indicators.

Static exploded in his ears. He grabbed the sides of his helmet, trying to quiet the roar.

“This is Captain Starfiend, a Free Man on the Belt and subject to no Admiralty Star Courts. I am taking command of this station and all of its goods and occupants. Any resistance will be suppressed immediately. This is your only warning.”

The lights flickered to life and Kinsley felt the atmo-generators kick into gear. He saw Tonyson and Dyson take defensive positions. There were only two entrances to the kitchen: through the mess hall, or through the airlock. He leaned against the oven and stood with his arms out, like he had an electrocoil big iron trained on the airlock door.

Lights flashed from kitchen.

“Oh yeah, they’re not idiots,” he muttered and pushed himself into a corner.

The pirates stormed in, kicking over trays and sending utensils bouncing off the walls. Kinsley grabbed a steak knife that had careened past on an unsteady orbit.

“Okay, how many of you rats are in here?” someone roared.

“Just…just the two of us,” Tonyson barked back. He didn’t sound scared.

“Start filling my space-crates, and don’t drag yer feet. Don’t think I’m soft cause I ain’t killed you yet,” the man spoke. His crew laughed before they started picking the kitchen clean. Kinsley grabbed another knife before it floated past and slid it into his boot straps. Heavy footsteps edged closer.

Someone stopped right in front of the oven. A heavy grav-cape billowed to rest. It was the pirate Captain. Kinsley weighed his options. The blade wasn’t big enough to do any serious damage, and the pirate could take him in a fight. Opening the grav oven would vent its positive pressure, but it would cost him the pies.

He slid his hand around the back of the oven, fingers feeling for the emergency shutoff. There. The click was like an electro-gunshot. It was already too late when the pirate reacted. The oven doors blew open, the torrent of superheated air melting his skin and igniting his hair. The springs let loose and blasted the pies from their trays.

The pirate screamed and slammed his head into the air exchanger, mad with pain when the superheated jelly exploded over his face. He pounded his chest, a rattling wheeze came from his ruined airways.

Kinsley flashed his helmet light and sent the knives on a gentle arc across the kitchen. Two flashes in return. He smiled knowing they’d stand a fighting chance. He grabbed the plasma cleaner from its hook near the oven and stepped into the fray. He blew through the back of a pirate who was busy shoving dinner rolls into a space-crate.

That’s when he saw it through the mess hall door. The JaneyLane, in perfect synchronous orbit. She was beautiful. An old girl, a latticework of viewing panes and carboluminum. She glowed like a jewel, though the crimson of the central spindle had faded. And they’d never know. They’d never experience his pies. He’d be disqualified and they’d be crowned winners. It filled him with a rage so intense he didn’t realize he’d cut through the floor with the plasma cleaner.

They couldn’t win.

He grabbed an extinguishing canister and lunged through the door, still holding the plasma cleaner. He aimed it at the viewing-panes.

“No! What are you doi-" someone yelled.

But he was already free. The Lane was right there, he could make out tables in the mess hall. The pie judging was in full swing. He pressed the canister’s trigger. Everything shot closer. He could make out patterns in the tile now, saw necks craning, finally he could see the scared faces praying to the stars.

This year there would be no winners.

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

Erogenous Beef posted:

So, Sebmojo, my opponent has come crawling in supplication and wishes an extension until Sunday. I'm amenable, for I will go to the whisky bar tomorrow and her mortal dread of my wordpeen will spice every peaty sip.

Acceptable. Sunday midnight PST.

Jun 7, 2007

i'm a little shai :3
Bowing out. Life happened, and since I can't fall back on talking about poop...

Sorry/You're welcome

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.

Erogenous Beef posted:

* A jaunty, yet disturbing, ditty which reveals something about the character(s) who like it - think Psycho Dad
* Pirate radio changes (or has changed) the life of someone.

God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards
(big game hunting/chickens; icebreaker ship)

Enemies (1195 words)

Their first home is deep enough in the country that there aren't any streetlights. The only illumination comes from the dull halogen over the neighbor's chicken coop. Charlie and Amelia, on their bellies in front of the attic window, stare down at it.

"How are you going to know which one is the loud one?" Amelia asks.

"Maybe I'm just going to kill all of them. Ever think of that?" They lie hip to hip in their improvised sniper nest, sweating. Amelia is in her pajamas. Wood dust adheres to her skin. Every time Charlie twitches the rifle, she flinches.

"Trigger discipline, babe," she says, apropos of nothing.

"I know. Christ." She feels him shift against her. "I'm gonna take a potshot at it, see if I can wake them up."

"Won't that wake up Beau?" Beau is the chickens' owner, a decrepit don't-tread-on-me Paulite. He's been known to answer the door with a shotgun.

"He can hardly hear, dumbass." Charlie pushes forward the rifle bolt. "Besides," he adds, "it has a suppressor."

Before Charlie left for port last year, they'd joked about the hen. The golden bird would stroll the yard, stopping at odd intervals to let off a yowling alarm call. But they were willing to ignore it, high on the possession of their own home: even the off-camber tilt of the driveway, even the poison ivy in the backyard.

"You'd make that noise, too, if you had to squeeze an egg out of your whatever," Amelia said.

"Wherever the eggs come from, I'm sure I don't have one," Charlie answered, laughing.


Every year, Charlie would work the winter cruise-ship circuit while Amelia lived an old woman's life. A quiet part-time job, a bimonthly book club, the occasional visit with old friends. In the springtime he'd return to Port Emmawak grinning and unchanged, and she'd pick him up with a takeout bag from Willy Burger waiting in the passenger seat. Amelia had always known exactly what she was getting into. She was, as always, in love.

In ordinary winters, the phone calls would arrive by satellite from New Zealand, Madagascar, the Falklands, Argentina. Amelia, by February, would measure out her life in bedtimes and grocery trips, phone calls and loads of laundry.

The most recent winter, though, marked the first time she could gorge herself on news. She could see Charlie behind the stories, shivering on the deck in his waterproof outerwear: "Stranded and sinking, Antarctic cruise ship begs help from Russia." "'Secret Life of Penguins' filming delayed by cruise disaster."

Pack ice had first surrounded the ship, she read, then squeezed it in an embrace that crushed the hull. Freezing water had trickled in through the rents. They were trying to tilt the ship enough that they could dry out the cracks and weld on a patch. The BBC crew filming the penguins was considering evacuation. It took three weeks and two icebreaker ships before they could limp, a week earlier than usual, back home.

"It was just frustrating," Charlie said from the passenger seat of the SUV. "I'd go out there every morning and we'd be sitting just a little lower in the water. Everyone was either on edge or walking around all fake-cheerful, 'oh don't worry, they'll come get us any minute now. Chin up.'"

"So what did you do?" she asked. He hadn't touched his burger and fries. "While you were there, I mean. To pass the time."

Stand on the deck and wait, he said. He waited for the Russian icebreaker, and he waited for his next shift manning the pumps, and he waited for the ship to sink. Passengers would tap his shoulder and ask how long it would take. I'm just a janitor, he'd tell them. There's nothing I can do for anyone. Three weeks of black water, grey sky, and white ice. When your car breaks down, you get out and walk. When your jet runs out of fuel, you pray. But when your ship founders in the terra incognita, you just wait.

He was foul-mouthed before, sure, but his sardonicism was always tempered with sweetness. After that winter, though, he began picking fights: a woman let her shopping cart careen into the SUV, got her groceries scattered into the parking lot for her troubles. A man touched Charlie's leg with the bumper of his Cadillac. Charlie sucker punched him through its open window. Amelia argued with the police officer. He's had a hard time. Everyone expected him to just let the world gently caress with him and not do anything, he said. He was glad she understood.

Then one Sunday in August, she returned from the grocery store to find him in frustrated tears, covering his ears with his hands.

"What's wrong, babe?" she asked.

"That sound. Listen."

The silent room was suddenly pierced by the hen's alarm call, as familiar to Amelia as a childhood cuckoo clock. "gently caress!" Charlie shouted. "If that thing would just shut up for once, I'd feel," he pounded both palms on his thighs, "so much better."

"Is it really the chickens that're bothering you that much?"

He paused, considering this. Sighed. "Yeah, it's the chickens, kid. They're driving me nuts."


Charlie's first shot from the attic impacts the grass with a muffled bang, sending up a clod of dirt. "Jesus," says Amelia, scooting back from the window. They wait, but nobody stirs except the chickens, whose soft confused gabbling drifts up to the attic. The golden hen is now clearly visible, strutting in panicked circles just outside the coop.

Charlie fires another round. Amelia feels the soft percussion of the rifle thud in her chest. The offending chicken is thrown backwards. Feathers and bits of flesh spatter the ground. The rest are in a blind, idiot panic.

"That thing must be for hunting elephants. gently caress," she says.

"Deer, I think." They lie there quietly together, looking down at the defeated coop, hoping Beau is sleeping soundly.

Suddenly, Amelia feels like giggling. There's a bizarre joy in this method of solving problems. If I have to choose, she thinks, I would rather help you fight your enemies than be one of them. Always. "How does it feel, knowing it'll never squawk again?" she asks. "Wanna shoot another one?"

"You know, babe, it's funny," Charlie replies. He heaves himself to his knees and starts extracting spent rounds from the gun. "It's just a chicken, you know? To tell you the truth I feel kind of bad, all of a sudden."

"It has been bugging you for months, you said."

"Yeah." She hears him fumbling with the rifle's unfamiliar mechanism. "I could've just let it go right on bugging me, come to think of it." He sighs. "Can't fix everything that's wrong with the world. I mean, what am I going to do the next time somebody cuts in front of me at Starbucks, shoot them, too?"

Charlie offers Amelia his hand. "No more big game hunting for now," he says, grinning, as she pulls herself up from the attic floor.

"Hey, do you think you're going to go back to work this winter?" she asks.

"We'll have to see what happens."

God Over Djinn fucked around with this message at 07:51 on Nov 25, 2013

Dec 17, 2003

Stand down, men! It's only smooching!

Hey, Incesto, maybe post some GODDAMNED crits from a week ago. TIA.

Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart

Quidnose posted:

Hey, Incesto, maybe post some GODDAMNED crits from a week ago. TIA.

Crits have never been a Commandment, but they are generally appreciated.

Signups are now closed.

I'll post word bounty verdicts shortly.

Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart
Thursday's Word Bounties so far...

Tyrannosaurus: Weirdness, check. Victorian gentleman addressing a family drama from 1986, check. Author has confused "beautiful writing" with using a thesaurus, check. Interracial gay sex apparently included for shock value, even though this isn't particularly shocking as we don't live in the 60s, check. +50 words

SurreptitiousMuffin: While being facetious, Muffin still manages to crank out better words than any of the rest of you. Four times. Your take on the cocaine prompt was particularly good. You get +8==D words.

Fraction: Too direct a take on the concept, and the action occurs at a sufficient distance that the getting-high just feels extraneous. Also, under the 150-word stated minimum. +50 words

Crabrock: Your first is an amusing way to pull in one of the main prompt's challenges. Your second is actually really good. Your words will be fired from a sacrificial cannon.

Sebmojo: When you parody bad writing, you do it well, co-judge.

Obliterati: Napoleon's retreat from Moscow. Interesting. I have some bones to pick with the words Napoleon uses; they're often very clinical, as if a man who's just had his entire army smashed and is retreating in disgrace through a bitter winter, is some kind of climate scientist. There's a few points that are unclear. Is the "meat skeleton" the horse, or a cute way of saying he's zapping Nappy himself? Decent for a first-time entry. +50 words, except you didn't sign up for the main event, so bleah.

Kaishai: Hallucinogenic, to the point where I lose the action a few times. A lot of strong language, but not much inventive language - see Muffin's bits. I do like the "baptized" line though. +50 words

Fumblemouse: You wrote an actual story. Still, it's a cute take on "with trees and poo poo". I giggled a lot while reading, so you get +100 words.

The Saddest Rhino: If you'd stopped after the first vignette, you might've done better. It's amusing and has a strong sense of character. The middle one is weak, and the third is obviously a dick joke, so I'm discounting it. +50 words

docbeard: Ah, an escalating series of letters from someone peripheral to the action. A fine choice if you were telling a story, but I wanted a vignette with pretty words. Also, the three letters should probably have dates or something on them, as I originally thought they were all sent at the same time, which was very confusing. +50 words

Word bounties remain open for another 22ish hours for those who haven't already submitted one.

Erogenous Beef fucked around with this message at 13:39 on Nov 23, 2013

May 12, 2010

Pro is an amazing name!

Quidnose posted:

Hey, Incesto, maybe post some GODDAMNED crits from a week ago. TIA.

gently caress your poo poo. Late crits? Ask me if I loving care. (If this is too long, say something and I'll split it into two posts)

Sitting Here - A Portrait of the Endless Scatalogical Cycle of Life and Death

You had something good going on here for a while. The equivalence of a paralyzed man being a public spectacle, much like a caged animal in a zoo. The empathy between the protagonist and the leopard. The raw, dirty fact that hormones don't stop working when the rest of your body does. And then you swerved left, floored it right through the guard rail, and pulled the pin on the grenade right as you drove off the cliff. I was willing to forgive the animal sex, but it all turned into one giant joke referencing another TD entry that I haven't read, so whatever, I no longer give a poo poo. The only praise I am willing to give is that the competence with which you wrote the first half makes the second half all the more grotesque.

Fraction - The Eye of the Tiger

Hey look, a divorce. Maybe it's just because you submitted early so I hadn't yet been soured on the theme, or maybe it's because the actual divorce has a lasting impact on the protagonist so it doesn't feel like a cheap emotional pull for "boo hoo broken family think of the children". This was one of my favored pieces for the week. Didn't beat around the bush and had the happy ending of Lily dodging the bullet of becoming an otherkin.

Lazy Beggar - Nim

I'm sorry, what the gently caress is going on here? You get a piddling amount of credit for being the only one attempting to write from the animal's point of view. That premise still doesn't excuse you from having a narrator so alien and obtuse that I can't even loving figure out what kind of animal your POV character is. You go to too great of a length to force us into the animal's brain, to the point where I had to read a single sentence three times just to figure out that Nim is being watched by a mother and daughter. And then there was something about being fed by a zookeeper and then nothing happens. You're real lucky you dodged a dishonorable mention bullet this week.

Zack Gochuck - Polar Bear

Oh cool, more divorce. Thankfully, this was one of the shorter ones, and pretty god drat straightforward. As already pointed out, deleting the text one letter at a time was a nice touch, and I only had to trudge through 450 words to get there. You get pretty heavy-handed with your metaphor, but it's tolerable for being so short.

sicklysweet45 - Half the Battle

Golly gee, look at this pure, uncorrupted youth who can see the evils of ethnocentricism! Why does this feel so familiar? Oh right, I read exactly five hundred stories with this exact same moral in middle school. The human zoo premise isn't exactly bad, but I saw the "Humans exploiting humans because DIFFERENT" message flying at me from a mile away. A couple extra hundred words could have given this piece a bit of a twist or some more depth. Or you could have used those few hundred words to write "discussion questions" for some 7th grader's homework.

Sweet Joke Nectar - Farewell to Woodland Park

Okay, there’s no poop bomb, so you’re already doing better than last week. The problem is that the plot is one extended exercise in navel-gazing and it bored me to sleep. Literally. Everything’s play so drat straight and lacking any real investment in the characters that it becomes “Two brothers had a crappy dad and they talk it out.” Next time, throw in some salt and vinegar to make it interesting and palatable.

Nubile Hillock - A bird story

You deserve a special kind of award, because you wrote a story that's every bit as incomprehensible as the one told from a monkey/tree sloth/tribble's point of view, and you don't even get the excuse of a non-human POV character. Some guy has a stupid, lovely life and there's a banjo and a cowboy hat. Seriously, what the gently caress is going on? Even if there were page breaks between each day, there's eight or nine characters, none of whom are actual people. Final nail in the coffin? You spent more words writing about brand names for shoes than you did on zoos. Good loving job.

crabrock - It's All Happening

Another story where a lovely zoo reflects a lovely family, but this one is at least kind of funny. No surprise that most of the stupid tiny details were the best parts. I should probably be angry at you for making me laugh at a mentally handicapped child, but gently caress it. Unfortunately, the divorce punchline didn’t really get much out of me, but that’s probably because this week’s entries managed to make me tired of divorce in roughly 15 minutes. Also, shame on you for not revealing that the lion was actually a dog.

Kaishai - The Worth of What We Love

I don’t have much to say about this one. It sports a clear (if easy) metaphor, packs characterization into a tiny space, and is actually about forming a loving family rather than splitting one up. This was my favorite for the week.

Erogenous Beef - Untamed

Two good stories in a row and neither of them have divorce in them. This might not be a coincidence. Loved the dialogue-heavy approach and the sense of inevitable regret. My only complaint is that naming the guy “Bear” made me picture Bear Grylls squeezing elephant poop over his face the entire time. On second thought, that’s not much of a complaint at all.

Nikaer Drekin - Homo Delphinidae

On the one hand, you avoided beastiality. On the other hand, you still snuck divorce in there somehow. You spent too much time talking about a life story that’s boring and not enough time exploring the mental state of a creeper who thinks he’s a dolphin in real life. Your narrator is supposed to be creepy, right? And frankly, I just don’t buy that a film crew would want to make a documentary about a local sex offender whose fursona is a cetacean.

TheRamblingSoul - The Tyger

Featuring one-dimensional characters, a teenager who’s too stupid to live, and a plot that’s predictable within the first few sentences. Since you’ve already taken plenty of beating from the other judges, I’ll pile on the pain by narrowing down to a specific point: Your dialogue sucks. “The guards are probably out here looking for people like us and I’d rather not show up home in the back of a police car.” Just read that out loud to yourself. Does that sound like anything any living human being would say? While that’s the most egregious example, most of the spoken words are equally bad. And then there’s all the other poo poo you did. Staying firmly within the prompt is pretty much the only thing that saved you from losing this week.

Bad Seafood - Nests

Sasha has unseeing eyes, and yet Yuri is communicating to him in sign language. Oops. Hiding the facts from your doesn’t-know-poo poo, might-be-Hellen-Keller grandson is a cute vehicle, but you’re really beating us over the head with the collapse of the Soviet Union thing. There’s something slightly twisted under the surface of this piece that needs some extra fleshing out. Could have benefited from a carefully crafted extra hundred words or so.

sebmojo - Outside the Walls

I’m just going to stop mentioning the D-word now. You got to the point, and fast, so I’m thanking you for that. Then there’s a dead child (READ: completely unnecessary melodrama bomb) at the end. You overshot with the ending, and in the context of being one of the later entries that largely featured the same theme, my eyes glazed over the same time Sarah Louise’s did. Hopefully the last line implies Eloise is going to jail, regardless of how little sense that makes.

Tyrannosaurus - Trying to be a Father

You gave away too much in the title. Still, this piece is cute and features a tiny reveal at the end that changes the nature of the story without involving erect penises, vomit, or dead children. Not much else for me to say beyond that I thought this was one of the better entries this week.

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

inthesto posted:

gently caress your poo poo. Late crits? Ask me if I loving care. (If this is too long, say something and I'll split it into two posts)

Good crits: that length is fine. Zoos and divorce, who goddam knew.

Teriyaki Koinku
Nov 25, 2008

Bread! Bread! Bread!

Trying to squeeze this one in under word count, feel free to judge/critique me harshly. Enjoy!
* A sumptuous buffet of hideous delicacies.
* Big game hunting. For chickens.

Baptism by Blood (1,196 Words)

Dave’s thoughts were focused on one thing: April.

His lungs were full of fire. Lightning shot through his legs as he ran through the forest. A solemn silence hung in the air as dark clouds gathered. A murmur of thunder rumbled as raindrops began to fall.

The arthritic knees, the creeping chill — none of that were important now. His daughter was in the hands of a madman somewhere.

She must be found. That’s all that matters.

Dave clutched his Garmin. On it were the coordinates that would lead him to his daughter.

If she is there, she will be alive.

She has to be.

Guilt held a tight grip over Dave’s heart.

He spent the weekend in California on a business trip. Of course she was adult enough to stay by herself at the house over the weekend, he didn’t argue with that.

I hate you!

The words hung heavy in his mind.

Before Dave left, he confronted April over an older student she was caught fooling around with at school. He is a bad influence, he told her, you need to stay away from him.

I am an adult! I don’t care if I’m seventeen and I’m under your roof, I can still make my own decisions! Stop treating me like a child!

When Dave came back on Sunday night, she was gone.

He tried calling the boyfriend, he had no clue where she was. The school had no answers.

When he notified the police, they said they had few leads but would continue searching for the girl. They would notify him when they found her. Useless bastards, he thought.

Nothing turned up.

On Tuesday, Dave fretted at home, still waiting for an answer.

That afternoon, he received a text. It read, simply:


Dave then received a second MMS text.

It was a picture of April, blindfolded on the floor.


The light drizzle turned slowly to rain. Another burst of thunder echoed through the valley.

The ground was a slurry of dead leaves and mud. Dave lost his footing in the sludge and slipped, catching himself on all fours.

Is this my punishment? Does God want me to suffer?

Before April could waddle, her mother was dead. Marrying someone else was out of the question for Dave.

April was all he had left.

The signal was coming closer on the GPS.

In the distance, Dave saw a dilapidated shack between the trees, caving in on one side. He stepped gingerly across the crumbling mess of broken bricks and sheet metal.

Around the corner, Dave found what seemed like what he was looking for: a trap door buried in the earth. The bronze hatch had a circular handle, seemingly waiting to be opened.

A flash of light.

A crackle of lightning snaked its way across the sky. A deafening boom followed.

The rain, already steady, became a downpour.

Dave knelt down by the trap door and gripped the handle with both hands. He tugged hard against the handle and slowly felt it give way. He lifted - straining - and finally pulled the hatch open.

A ladder invited him into the darkness below. Dave had no choice but to oblige.

He climbed down into the darkness.

The air felt oppressive.

As Dave touched the ground, he stared back up at the open sky. The thunder was distant, the rain remote.

Dave shivered, remembering the cold.

Dave looked into the darkness ahead. He grasped at the cell phone in his pocket

Tell no one. Break my trust, she dies.

Dave bit his lip, then he pulled out the cell phone and turned it on to light the path. Time passed as he walked through the darkness.

He felt naked, vulnerable and alone.

At last, Dave came to a dead end.

He directed the light on the bedrock wall. Set in the walls was an ornate wooden door. The door knob was replaced by a golden lion head.

Dave gripped his hand on the door knob. Thoughts streamed through his mind.

She is going to be behind this door and she’s going to be okay. We’re going to get out of here together. She has to be in there.

Dave steadied himself and then twisted the door knob.

The door opened.

Immediately, a horrible stench poured out and Dave gagged as he cupped his nose and mouth.

The smell of spoiled, raw meat filled the air and invaded his senses. There was no place to turn to escape the awful aroma. Dave braced himself and entered the room, but was not ready for what he saw.





Chicken guts were strewn across countless plates, resting in piles of coagulated blood. A gruesome display of haute cuisine if there ever was one. Silverware and plates were arranged as if the chef were expecting many more guests.

Even the wine goblets were filled with blood.

Then, Dave had noticed the walls.

Chicken heads were mounted on plaques on the walls, covering every square inch from floor to ceiling.

They stared back at Dave, blankly, frozen corpses in an audience of death.

Where is April? Why is she not here? Where is everyone?

Dave made his way to the back of the dining hall. He grabbed a steak knife, just in case he should find the bastard responsible.

There was a second door, again with a lion’s head door knob. Dave opened the door.

Before him was a long hallway.

A trail of blood and chicken guts followed the path. The blood and gore grew more plentiful as Dave walked along. At last, another door — this time a steel door. Blood bubbled out from beneath the frame.

Suddenly, Dave noticed a noise from behind the door.

It was faint.

It sounded almost like… Crying?

A female voice. Was it April?

A sense of doom crept through Dave’s mind. What if the man who took April was in there with her? Could he fight him off? What would he do?

Dave gripped the knife in one hand, the door knob with the other.

If that guy is in there, he thought, I will just have to take him down quickly. I can do it, just one quick swing.

One last breath, and then Dave swung open the door.

What he found shocked him.

It was April.

She was covered in blood, sobbing as she knelt down.

A knife stained with fresh blood lay at her feet.

A lanky man dressed in hunting gear lay face down, still more blood seeping out from beneath him.

As soon as she noticed Dave, April sprang up. They embraced, now sobbing together.

Between choking sobs, April spoke softly, “He made me eat chicken guts and drink their blood. He kept me alive on that awful poo poo. He was going to kill you. I had to make a decision. I… had to kill him. Please, forgive me…”

April wept, burying her face in her father’s chest.

They remained embraced, sobbing together in the carnage that surrounded them.

At least now they were safe, if not sound.

Teriyaki Koinku fucked around with this message at 07:16 on Nov 24, 2013

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.

inthesto posted:

Hiding the facts from your doesn’t-know-poo poo, might-be-Hellen-Keller grandson is a cute vehicle, but you’re really beating us over the head with the collapse of the Soviet Union thing.
You crib a couple foreign names and all of a sudden you're writing about the collapse of an old world superpower. I had no idea I'd written something so ambitious.

Speaking of which, QUIDNOSE, the man who would challenge the gods, and SEBMOJO, the god in question, it's time for your :supaburn: :siren: THUNDERBRAWL RESULTS POST. :siren: :supaburn:


Write some stuff about revenge in a way that doesn't make me hate you (protip: you both dropped the ball on at least one of these).


Hosana In Excelsis - Quidnose

Boy oh boy it's a good thing you misread the prompt and submitted this immediately or else you might have actually had to do some research into theological matters that didn't involve flipping through old Gary Larson cartoons (I love that one where it's Colonel Sanders at the Pearly Gates with the chickens). You might have also churned out something with a little more meat to it than a riff off the Hatfield and McCoy feud with the subtlety of a having a staring contest with an oncoming double-decker greyhound bus (seriously, the Colonel is just like standing there, and there are these two chicken statues with no caption and you're like "Oh man"). Your prose was solid and made good use of some light black humor, but in the end the dish was not up to the level of expert preparation that went into it (it's like, HA, how ironic, of course it would be chickens). The guy who mans the Pearly Gates is Saint Peter by the way, don't know if you've heard of him (Cause you know he's going to Hell but they don't say anything, that's an economy of words).


Getting Cut - Sebmojo

Aw yeah we're on the inside now boyos, hard men doing hard time all the time. Just like in the movies. That's how it works on the inside. You've got some good dialogue here, which is important as its mostly what carries your story besides the rugged good looks of your punctuation. Got a bit hazy at points with what exactly was going on in a way that made me have to reread it but not in a way that made me hate being literate. Some light description, a lot said unsaid, and how did you know I love open endings; feels like it's my birthday. There's some real weight here and I don't mean whatever those sittin' prettyboys are benching. You really get the sense Simon is in over his head on this one, and over just a few choice words ("Knife him," "Don't knife him"). There's gonna be consequences either way, and there's never gonna be the same.


Sebmojo wins though I guess I did spoil that yesterday in IRC, oops.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.
Eh, long as we're up.

A Metaphor for the Soviet Union (370 words)

A man has a terrifying dream in which he is being sawn in half. He wakes to find himself in the Indian Ocean, naked and clinging to a door; a hotel keycard is clenched in his teeth. Write what happens next.

The door was a sturdy mahogany inlaid with brass, a true classic: the Audrey Hepburn of doors. Richard's fingers traced the fine wood paneling as he struggled to stay afloat, eyes blinking, his lungs full of saltwater. He discerned the words LED ZEPPELIN SUCKS scratched an inch beneath the handle, a brazen declaration immortalized crudely in penknife. Even lost at sea there was no escaping the plebeians.

"Oy! Oy!" a voice called out to him. Irish, female. "Outta the water!"

Richard turned from the burning, smoldering wreckage of the ship to the sea, the horizon. There bobbed a bed of similar elegance, stripped of upholstery, its lone female occupant naked and shivering, an industrial strength umbrella clutched to her chest. She was short-haired and irritated, her umbrella black as per company standard.

"Oy! Are ya deaf? Get outta the water! It's not safe!"

Something dark loomed beneath the waves. Richard kicked his feet and felt something erogenous. It all came back to him in a rush. The cruise. The party. The siren. The antlers.

Richard released his grip on the beloved door of his youth of five minutes ago. He made for the woman, the safety of her bed and the shelter of her umbrella. Like spears his arms burst from the surface of the water, dragging him closer and closer towards his salvation, and a very probable romantic comedy deal after all was said and done. Rated R for gratuitous nudity, hers and his.

He had been a champion swimmer in his collage days, but the gut of age and executive marking had taken their toll on the old boy. He had scarcely made it halfway to the bed when the ocean erupted in salt and sea spray, the twin antlers that had heralded the end of his vacation rising now to usher him to his fate. Richard hung back, his breathing coarse, his heart sinking, resigned. Before him loomed the balding, bearded face of Erogenous Beef, Lord of the Sea. Erogenous Beef regarded him with cold, uncaring eyes, his great maw clicking, clacking, opening wide.

Richard screamed. The keycard to Room 408 of the California Royal was forever lost to the deep.

Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart
Word Bounties are now closed.

Bad Seafood: Some nice metaphors and images here. The "collage" typo is pretty funny; if only it'd been intentional. +100 words, even though I know you won't use them.

The rest of you have 21 hours until Main Event submissions close.

Mar 27, 2010



I have to withdraw from this week. Life getting in the way, etc etc excuses excuses.

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.
Tasting and Judgment
Prompts: A sumptuous buffet of hideous delicacies and an ever-growing beard.
(1,102 words)

In Cheylsim in the far south, they keep their Emperor in a lamplit crypt. He has been dead for many hundred years. When he lived he was a strong man, a strong mind, such a strategist and judge and ruler that his people could never submit to any other. So his servants say. They know it by the taste of his beard, which only they may eat. It grows from the bone of his jaw, and the servants must harvest it often to keep it from spilling through his ribs, over the sides of his bier, to cover all the world.

Something has to be done with that hair. In Cheylsim, they will not waste it.


Devere stopped on the front step of Miyosen's mansion, where the light shone brightest through the open doors, to let the household guards look their fill at his cotton coat and trousers. He gave them a moment, then held out his hand and his signet ring. The man on the left waved him inside. Without any houseboys to guide him, he relied on a path of candles: every turn away from the feast led to darkness. Every door along the way was shut.

Miyosen's head manservant stepped out from an alcove near the dining hall, taking hold of Devere's arm and shepherding him firmly into the banquet.

The murmurs of the other guests died. Miyosen met Devere's eyes from the head of his table. He smiled. "Why, Lord Devere," he said. "You were almost late."

A platter of red meat lay between two candelabra; the glow brought out a glint from the soft body hairs that furred the slices, mingled with the juice of the animal in expert proportion. A blonde's, surely. And a young one, to shed so fine. The long, sugared strands of the hair 'nests' that held egg custard could have come from anyone. Pale crescents of nail gave scales back to white fish flesh. Rare skin cracklings dusted the asparagus, and lashes curled at the bottom of the wine. The dishes covered the great table completely.

Devere swallowed his saliva. "I wouldn't have wanted to miss this."

The manservant led him to the only empty seat. All the others were filled with peers in their finest shirts and robes woven from the Emperor's beard, garish with poisonous dyes. Miyosen's robe had such a silver luster that Devere couldn't look at it directly without dazzling himself. He let his eyes range over the rest of the lords instead, tallying up who looked at him with small smiles, who with scorn, and who bothered to try and hide those things.

Miyosen clapped. The lords reached as one for the platters in front of them. Devere took the fish, the steak, a nest for dessert. He refused a dish of meatballs that his right-hand neighbor pressed on him. The man's voice held an edge; Devere suspected the meat included hairs too short and too curly for his personal taste.

Plates filled, the diners waited. Miyosen drove his fork through a scallop and held it up so all could see the strands wrapped around it. "Strength of our enemies, wisdom of our allies, through their relics, ours to share." He popped the scallop into his mouth and raised his wine glass to toast the feast.

Whose nails did Devere chew, marinated to softness in white wine? What woman had given her virtues to the steak? He couldn't know, and it had been too long since his last such meal to care. Each sip of wine sharpened his mind, so perhaps the lashes in it had been a scholar's. He filled his glass again and stole a glance at Miyosen. The man ate heartily.

Until his plate was clean--then Miyosen stood again, his robe threatening to blind them all. "I have a treat for you, my friends. And in fact, it is why each of you is here." He gestured: the manservant brought him a covered porcelain dish. "I have a lock of the Emperor's beard. Undyed. Unpoisoned."

Where Devere had tasted cream sauce, egg, and sugar, now he tasted a memory.

Miyosen knew. His faint smile was for Devere, even if they alone knew it. His black eyes dared Devere to protest such an offering while he wore a cotton coat, a testimony to a suspicion of which he had never been cleared.

Devere's right-hand neighbor said, "That's highly illegal."

"Of course," Miyosen agreed.

"To eat it would be a death sentence."

"Of course. If it could be proven." Miyosen inclined his head Devere's way. Only slightly. But surely they all saw. "His strength and wisdom--his servants partake, and it does the country no good at all. We live outside of crypts. Cheylsim is ours... or may be."

Miyosen opened the box and lifted out a coil of silver duller than his vestments. He divided it carefully: three strands per man at the table. Including Devere. Who looked at the hair he held and gulped down wine; the scholar's eyelashes tickled his throat.

Devere pinched one of the strands and touched its end to his lips. He drew it in, staring at Miyosen, whose expression had become unreadable. He tasted hints of the strengths the hair held. Hot blood. Adrenaline. Vitality; purpose; vision; desire!

But none of them the Emperor's.

The noblemen watched him. He rolled the hair around in his mouth, tucked it in his cheek and sucked, studying the tension in Miyosen's knuckles. How the man wagered on Devere's self-interest to support his gambit.

The taste slowly changed. Phlegm. Infection. Blood from an inner battlefield.

Devere spat the hair onto his plate. "False!" His lungs sloshed for a horrid second. "Your source has deceived you, Miyosen, or you would deceive these men. This never came from the Emperor."

"How would you know, Lord Devere?" Miyosen's voice was all hardness and heat. "You were acquitted."

Devere drew in a breath. "I swear by the Eight Gods and my mother's soul that I have tasted the Emperor's beard. You all witness. Do not eat that hair--its strength is lies."

They took him to the crypt, of course, to face the justice of the servants, whose judgment was unmatched by any man save perhaps himself. The servants cut his hair to the scalp. They trimmed his eyelashes and his nails. A woman shaved his body, taking care not to taint the hair with blood. She pressed the razor to his skin. "Honesty. Self-sacrifice. Redemption." As she sliced his throat, she said, "I will watch your skeleton and pray its beard grows."

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007
The day the Area 51 files were declassified was worse than the day Rachel's ex had notified her of their divorce via an ad in the local paper.

To his credit, Roger's, it was a last resort...Rachel was notoriously hard to contact way up there in the Tudor-style timeshare-turned-bunker, which she'd picked up at a public auction when its rightful owner had been convicted of "fraud" and of defecating on the floors of other timeshares in the off season. But so, she was really way out there in the woods, and apparently the divorce court had authorized the ad, since there were no routes to Rachel's house that didn't require four wheel drive and a chainsaw.

Rachel hadn't even seen the ad the week it ran, had to get it folded up and cut-out from a local Forest Ranger who'd been carrying it around in hopes of running into her and having a laugh and maybe a dinner date over the whole thing. But Rachel was mortified, not because of the humiliation, not because of the loss of a marriage that she could sort of recall once caring about, but because THE STATE and her ex-"husband" Roger had colluded to weaken her assets without special visitation from herself, the flesh and blood woman.

Basically, it was unnerving and infuriating and strangely vindicating; of COURSE the "relationship" hadn't worked out...but luckily Rachel had purchased the Tudor timeshare bunker with her own private physical American dollars and Roger and The "Courts" couldn't do a thing about it.

So, all conspiracy enthusiasts have their sweet spot, that plot to end all plots, whose intrigues weave a clear, bright red thread through history's tapestry. For some people, the JFK assassination is like coordinate zero on the axis of time and events. For others, it's the lunar landing and the so-called "space race"….for Rachel, though, it was Area 51.

"This has been a decades-long war of misinformation," she had said into her computer's microphone while recording her VERY popular podcast show, wherein she and her avid listeners discussed via phone call and E-mail just how really real the real truth of Area 51 was. "WE are here to pass the torch of truth to the next generation. WE are the front line in a war no one knows exists. WE are the voices of the silenced beings who THE STATE are trying to exploit for technology for war. WE have to show the E.T.s that there are members of humanity who are ready for the enlightenment that they've carried to us from light years across the stars."

In July of 2013, the CIA "declassified" more than fifty documents and put to rest once and for all the notion that there were so-called extraterrestrials at Groom Lake AKA the infamous Area 51. The Cold War, of course...was an easy scapegoat. Rachel couldn't count how many secret installations' purposes had been filed away under "Because Russia."

The Blog-o-sphere had erupted. Rachel's inbox had lagged with inbound E-mails...her listeners had been thrown into a frenzied debate, discussion forums turning on themselves...The True believers chastised the easily swayed-newcomers and conspiracy hobbyists seeking cheap mental weekend thrills...the "Hobbyists" lined up the Facts with the facts according to the CIA and threw up the white flag, before moving onto fresher plots like the Bilderberg Group and Google-slash-Skynet.

Rachel had always told herself that the reason SHE was different from other conspiracy enthusiasts was that she KNEW that she would accept rational proof of no E.T.s if someone provided it. But the week went around its wheel and Wednesday night arrived and Rachel couldn't bring herself to address her listeners, who would, just like her, want someone to tell them that is was another attack of misinformation, more misdirection...the same faithful tactics that had kept the war of data alive for so long.

So she skipped one podcast. And then the next. And then she stopped checking her E-mails...her heart pounded when she even looked at the icon for her inbox on the computer.

Rachel thought back to the Ranger with the divorce ad. Not anything about him, just of him. It was the first time that she'd thought of anyone who wasn't another nut (affectionate term--ok to use) or someone connected to Area 51 in ten years.

That realization sparked a chain reaction...when was that, the divorce ad? Some seven years before. Rachel went to the mirror and looked at herself, like really looked, for more than just to check for ringworm and seat-sores, and saw that she had swollen and sagged since then.

Rachel's cabin had been for Rachel like her safe little porthole view into the REAL world, the one where big things moved behind the scenes and even though they were dark things, they were there and were in control and could be fought and conquered...In theory. But it was only ever theories. Her fellow nuts on the forums boards would spend hours crafting arguments about the exact intent and nature of the E.T.s or theorizing about how whatever congressional bill related to the big Cover Up, never really rising to action.

She trawled all the normal blogs and podcasts, who reassured everyone that nothing had changed, that this was another volley in the battle for the truth as history would remember it.

The cabin seemed noisy and creaky and unfriendly even in the summer night.

Rachel couldn't remember the Ranger's name...he was probably long gone, anyway.

Rachel made up her mind. She decided to leave a note, with instructions on how to disable any forgotten traps around the place, and her story, just because she was afraid that someone'd find the place and make up their own stories about it, since she wouldn't be around to declassify the truth.

Don't look for her.

P.S. Please REALLY be careful about the traps, she left in a hurry.... (INSTRUCTIONS ON BACK)


(Beefbrawl, 1000 words)

Jul 19, 2011

Explosive Results
1349 words
(Phlogiston is real, and a beard that doesn't stop growing, ever.)

“Mrs. Pendragon? We’re here about the stolen birds,” Duffy said. The door creaked, and then clunked.“We can help you locate them,” Duffy continued as if a middle-aged woman in black weren’t trying to close a door on his foot.

I leaned to the side and said, “I apologise for my partner, he has no propriety and poor hearing, as well as steel toes. But we really are here to help. With the stolen beard. Katherine Islington and G. Duffy, Scientific Investigators.” I held out our card, which the woman ignored.

“My hearing is just fine. I just assumed that you couldn’t possibly have said it was a stolen beard. How does one steal a beard?” asked Duffy, which the woman also ignored.

“Scientific?” she said, at last, her voice full of skepticism. She did, at least, stop trying to crush Duffy’s foot.

“Traditional values for this new age of irrational wonders,” I said, and gave her my brightest smile. “We specialize in all the oldest techniques.”

She did not smile back. “I suppose you’d better come inside,” she said.

* * *

“How does one steal a beard?” Duffy asked me again. We’d been shown to a sitting room, or a drawing room, or whatever rich people have instead of just rooms. I was sitting, Duffy was standing behind a chair. He doesn’t really sit. Mrs. Pendragon was off getting drinks, or calling the police to have us hauled away.

“You’re doing the voice again,” I said.

“Sorry. The new resonator you built for me is a bit finicky.”

“The new resonator is fine. You just like doing the voice. You like sounding all BEEP-BEEP-I-AM-A-ROBOT.”

“Golem, not robot. And I don’t beep. And why should I use the resonator at all? It’s not as though our clients aren’t going to notice that I’m six feet tall and made of steel if I sound like a human child instead. I’m not ashamed of my voice.” It shouldn’t be possible for an expressionless metal face to look offended. “And a beard’s just hair. Shave it and it grows back. That’s not theft. At best, it’s assault.”

“It’s not just hair,” said Mrs. Pendragon. I held myself perfectly still at her sudden appearance. Detectives shouldn’t look startled. It undersells the detecting part of the job. “It’s an independent graft with a life of its own, forever growing, freely adhering to any face for as long as its owner desires. It’s been in our family for centuries. An alchemist’s experiment, we believe, from before such things were commonplace, making it all the more valuable. It shouldn’t have been possible to remove it from my husband without his cooperation, but someone found a way.”

“The obvious way,” I said, “would be to induce cooperation with a weapon or a threat, or the judicious application of money. Magistrate Pendragon claims no knowledge of what happened?”

“My husband doesn’t claim anything. He doesn’t have any idea what happened,” Mrs. Pendragon was glaring on, I think, general principles. She clearly didn’t like us, but was desperate, and didn’t like that, either. “His word is beyond reproach, and I will thank you to remember it.”

“He may be embarrassed. Or ashamed. People often are, of completely harmless things,” Duffy said. “Like voi-”

“Yes, okay, that’s wonderful. It doesn’t really matter how the perpetrators did it, or even why. Alchemic artifacts leave chemical residues, things we can detect with the proper application of…” I searched for the right word to explain the ancient sciences I’d rediscovered over the past few years.

“Other chemicals,” Duffy said. I’m sure he thought he was helping.

“This is,” Mrs. Pendragon said, “a very sensitive matter. That beard is...a status symbol. A symbol of his standing in the community. We will not tolerate anything but the most serious dedication to any recovery efforts, and will certainly not be offering any payment in advance for such…”

“My partner is somewhat distractible, Mrs. Pendragon, but I can assure you that she is well-versed in the ancient scientific techniques,” Duffy said. “And she is, contrary to appearances, capable of discretion where important. And one can assume that your efforts using the more traditional modern methods of divination and oracular consultation haven’t borne fruit?” This is why I keep Duffy around. Well, that and being an invulnerable metal man.

Mrs. Pendragon shook her head. “Do what you have to do as quickly as possible and then leave. If you find my husband’s beard, you’ll be well-compensated. If not, I have no desire to see either of you again.”

* * *

“I thought that went quite well,” I said later, in a cafe a few blocks away from the magistrate’s home.

“You burned a hole in her floor,” Duffy said.

“Which,” I replied, “she took well in stride.”

“She threatened to have me melted down, which I consider quite unfair, considering that the fire was entirely your-”

“Doesn’t matter, doesn’t matter. Because,” I leaned forward and looked up at my standing partner. Which isn’t as easy as it sounds. “that fire tells us a story.”

“Does the story end with ‘and that’s why Miss Islington should never be permitted to handle volatile chemicals’?”

“You know you can’t be properly sarcastic when you’re doing the voice,” I said. “Besides, I wasn’t. Using volatile chemicals. Nothing I used could possibly have caught on fire.”

“Then your eyebrows are still there?” He was certainly still giving the sarcasm a try, in spite of his metallic monotone.

“Shut up. My point is that the chemicals reacted with something already present in the environment.” This was the exciting bit. “There’s only one known substance that would, in conjunction with the simple analytic tools I was using, create such an explosive reaction. Pure, distilled phlogiston. Very difficult, very expensive to distill.”

“Yes, I remember your attempts. And the fires. And the explosions.”

“Oh, what do you care, you’re fireproof. A droplet of the pure stuff would be enough to cause the reaction we saw, and it wouldn’t occur naturally. Just our good luck it waited til we were there to detonate.”

“How is that good luck, precisely?” Duffy asked.

I ignored him. “The distillation of phlogiston in any kind of quantity requires, among other things, a nearly endless supply of raw materials, the more flammable, the better ”

“...such as a beard that never stops growing?” Now that was more like it.

“Is that your ‘Miss Islington, you’re a genius’ voice, or your ‘Miss Islington, you can’t be serious’, voice?”” I asked.

“I haven’t got a ‘Miss Islington, you’re a genius’ voice.”

“Starting today you have, because I know precisely how and why the beard was taken, and a bit of research should tell me who. We’ll have this case wrapped up before the day’s out.”

* * *

“Well, you were right. Our case is definitely over.” Duffy stood across from me, and I tried not to look at the scorch marks on his body. I might have to start feeling guilty, and we couldn’t have that.

“I was right about more than that,” I said. “Magistrate Pendragon’s beard was in the hands of the Consortia Follica, a new concern specializing in the distillation of phlogiston from human hair. Which you heroically retrieved at some considerable risk to yourself.”

“Heroically stole, as it turned out. Not that I was ever in any real danger, except from-”

“How could I possibly have known that the Magistrate had sold his beard for a share of the profits and simply didn’t want to admit it to his wife?” His attitude was really beginning to detract from the triumphant feeling I was trying to nurture.

“You might have asked him. As it is, I think we’ll be very lucky if we don’t end up in prison. Mrs. Pendragon denies hiring us entirely, and as it turns out, the only beard thieves in this entire affair were you and I.”

I looked around our jail cell and waited for the Magistrate to get back to us about bail. I had a feeling we would be waiting for some time. “You’re getting much better at sarcasm,” I said.

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.


Black Magic 799 Words
Mercedes vs Fraction Brawl

“So you Jesus?” Dante asked the bearded man. “And you black?” his words slurred past the shiny grill over his teeth.

Ralana shot up from her stool, knocking over cereal that swam in purple drank. “Nigga, prove it!”

Jesus grabbed an empty water bottle and slammed it on the kitchen counter, leaving a basket of fried chicken. The room erupted in a cacophony of hoots and hollers that turned to anger when a large black man attacked the miracle by shoving all the pieces of chicken into his maw.

“Jerome!” Ralana shoved him. “Share, stupid!”

“drat, nigglette!” Jerome said, half chewed chunks flying out of his mouth. “Why you always on my back like you a goddamn monkey?”

“Call me a monkey again...” The air around Ralana shimmered and the purple drank on the counter evaporated.

“Chill out, poo poo,” Dante said, grabbing Jerome by the shirt. “Black Jesus, don’t pay attention to these fools. We hungry.”

“Black Jesus, teach us how you teleport all dat food,” Jerome said, lifting his platinum necklaces off from his neck and presenting them. “Anything we got, it’s yours!”

"There is only one thing you possess that I cannot summon myself," Black Jesus said. Light bounced from the rings on his hand as he rubbed his beard. His eyes landed on Ralana and he smiled, revealing a bejeweled incisor with spinners. "One night with Ralana and I’ll teach you. Girl, you need Jesus."

"Hold on just a goddamn minu-”

"Done," Dante interrupted, stepping between Ralana and Jesus. They sealed the deal with a complex sequence of fist bumps and hand slaps.


After hours of meticulous work, Dante finished up his kool-aid drawn Sigil of Ameth. Jerome gently placed a ripe watermelon in the center of the circle while Ralana lit all the candles in the living room.

Dante placed his palms on the edge of the sigil and with a pulse of power, the living room stretched, warped and undulated until the world was a mess of lines and color. With jarring speed, everything snapped back into place and they found themselves in the middle of a grocery store.

"Fuckin’ hell, Hey-soos pulled through.” Ralana said in awe.

“What’s the matter with you? Be respectful!” Dante said.

“That nigga was Mexican. Ain’t no black dude got a tiny dick like his.”

In response to her blasphemy, a floating figure exploded into existence; the body of a man and the head of a dog . Red and blue lights shot out of the holes where his eyes should have been and a piercing siren wailed from his mouth.

“Oh hell naw, nigga!” Jerome jumped to his feet, and in a puff of smoke he grew to the same size as the demon. “I ain’t going back! Not today!”

Frozen in terror, Dante watched as chickens converged on Jerome before he threw his first punch. Jerome’s death screams echoed through the store among the crazed sounds of clucking.

Ralana burst into flames, lava oozed from the cracks in her skin and the air shimmered around her. She hurled a large glob of molten rock at the dog demon, but it broke uselessly over his skin.

In retaliation, the demon waved his hand and an invisible force knocked Ralana through the air, crashing into a display of collard greens. She pushed herself back to her feet, but the demon waved his hand again. This time, the floor beneath her gave way and she plummeted, screaming, into an olympic sized pool.

Steam plumed into the air and before long, the splashing sounds of a drowning person remained.

“Black Jesus,” Dante said, “Please save us!”

Twin black cherubs appeared overhead as it rained dollar bills. Each angel held a microphone as they beatbox battled each other. Black Jesus rose out of the water with a coughing Ralana in his arms. “The nigga of man never leaves his flock behind,” he said, “Especially his fine honeys." Black Jesus walked across the water to dry land. “Demon, my people have sinned in ignorance. How do I make this right?”

“A black man and a white man jump off of the same building at the same time. Who will hit the ground first? Answer this riddle, and I shall take your life instead of theirs,” the dog demon said, his alternating eye-lights dimming as he waited for an answer.

“Don’t do it Jesus!” Ralana said.

“Shh, Ray-Ray. Cherish the gift of life I will give you,” Black Jesus said, placing a finger to her lips. “Demon, the answer is ‘the white man’. The black man had a rope around his neck.”

In a flash of light, Black Jesus and the demon disappeared.

“Come on, Ralana.” Dante said as he helped her up, “We have to shop. For Him.”

Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.
Not gonna make it this week

Apr 12, 2006
Dystopian Young-Adult Lit

Big game hunting/chickens & ever-growing beard.

Slavery was, technically, illegal but with no one around to enforce the law I was going to be sold all the same. Sold because my mother loved my brother more than me. He was her oldest and her favorite and he needed medicine. Besides, she had other children.

“Do you have all your teeth, girl?” the buyer asked. His name was Rozavelt.

I nodded. He grabbed my head and forcibly pulled down my lips. He ran a finger along my gums.

“Flex,” he said.

I flexed. Arms when he said so. Legs when he said so. He circled around me, peering at my muscles through his circular spectacles. I stood completely still and obeyed his every word. By god, if I was going to be sold I would fetch a good price.

“How many winters have you seen?”

“Fourteen,” I said.

Out of the corner of my eye, I could see my nervous mother chewing on her hair. I kept my eyes straight and tried to look fierce. I wondered if he could hear how heavy my heart was beating.

“You are hunter, yes? What do you hunt?”

“Rat,” I said.


“Spear,” I said.

Rozavelt seemed to nod approvingly. He pointed to a long scar on one of his cheek. I had several just like it. Rat fang. He knew.

Traps were useless. You’d only ever get one and that was only a maybe. They never fell for the same trap twice, either. They learned. They remembered. I killed my first rat by hand. That first one was small, maybe only twenty pounds, and it fought me for an hour. I was covered in blood when I came out of the tunnels. But I carved a spear with its teeth and with that spear I brought home meals three times its size.

“What’s your name?”


“A good name. Well, Nike, I’m in the adventuring business. Would you care to join me?”

I looked at my mother. Even now, she was clutching my brother.

“Yes,” I said.

We shook hands like equals. Which is how he would always treated me.


We walked for a long time. Each time I looked back over my shoulder familiar sights grew smaller and smaller until they disappeared completely and I had no idea where I was. As night began to fall we sought shelter in the corroded remains of what Rozavelt said was once a bus. I made us a fire and ate sparingly from our rations. Rozavelt didn’t eat at all.

Something shrieked in the darkness. Something strange and horrific. I couldn’t tell the distance. I couldn’t even tell what it was. I glanced over at Rozavelt and he was smiling.

“What was that?”

“Rooster,” he said, the fire dancing in the reflection of his spectacles, “I didn’t expect to find one so soon.”

“Those aren’t real,” I whispered and tightly gripped my spear. I peered out of the bus. Every shadow seemed to be hiding the mythical predator. Twice the size of a man. Talons the size of my forearm.

Whatever it was out there shrieked again.

“An adolescent,” Rozavelt murmured, “Good size to it. Let’s hunt it. What do you say?”

I stared at him. He couldn’t be serious.

“Why would we do that?”

“Sport,” he said with a smile.


It took us an hour to walk there. My heart pounded in my chest the whole time. My eyes nervously scanned all around me as I constantly anticipated an ambush. Rozavelt, on the other hand, was calm. Utterly serene. He carried his metal club casually over one shoulder. Any time the rooster screamed he would stop, listen, nod.

Under the pale moon we climbed up the ruins of a collapsed building. The roof was a good vantage point. I heard running water and crept to the other side of the roof to find its source. Below us, in a courtyard, was a fountain. One of those pre-war relics that still had power. It had to be at least fifty feet wide. In the middle of it there was a magnificently carved statue of a man’s upper body. Stone shoulders rose out of the pool. Maybe once the man would have spat water in the air but now it merely trickled out of his lips. The water ran down the contours of its face like a never ending beard.

The grounds around the fountain were white with dried poo poo. Even in the dull moonlight I could see feathers abound. I could see claw marks in the concrete. This was what we were looking for. This was it.

“Oh yes,” Rozavelt said, slapping my shoulder with triumphant gusto, “This is it.”

I took a step forward and heard a snap. I turned to look at Rozavelt but I was already falling.

I hit the ground hard. I had lost my spear. Where was my spear? There was a great cloud of dirt and dust and it choked the breath from me. I covered my head with my hands as small rocks and pebbles continued to rain down upon me.

Eventually, everything stopped. I could hear Rozavelt on the roof.

“Nike!” he cried, “Nike! Are you okay? Nike, where are you?”

“I’m here! I’m okay!”

We both froze as we heard the rooster’s call.

“Quickly, girl. Climb!”

He reached down to me. He was only two stories up but he might as well have been a hundred.

“I can’t.”

“You have to,” he growled, “Quickly. Climb.”

I turned around and saw my spear lying in the dirt between me and the fountain. Behind the fountain, I saw the rooster.


The rooster cocked its head to the side.

There was no way I could get back to the roof in time but maybe I could get to my weapon.

Rozavelt screamed “Nike, don’t!”

But I did. I ran. I ran as fast as I could but the rooster was faster. It covered four times the distance as I did with every step. It landed on the giant head and its talons shredded through the stone. I gritted my teeth and slide on the dirt as it launched itself toward me. I lifted the point of my spear and screamed in the face of death.

Then there was the sound of thunder. There was a burst of red in the rooster’s chest. Sparks flew in the air as its talons skidded around me. It hadn’t landed on me.

I dusted myself off. The rooster continued to claw desperately at the ground. Blood pooled out around its body. Its eyes were wild. Even in its dying moments it would kill me if it could.

I turned and could see Rozavelt on the roof. His metal club was smoking. He gave me a thumbs up and a smile. I smiled back. I had never felt so alive.

Bikini Quilt
Jul 28, 2013
Dammit, first time trying this and I got swamped with work all week. I'm going to flesh out what I've got and toss it up for crit in another thread, though, so at least it wasn't a total wash. I enjoyed the prompt.

Dec 17, 2003

Stand down, men! It's only smooching!

Full Fathoms Five posted:

Dammit, first time trying this and I got swamped with work all week. I'm going to flesh out what I've got and toss it up for crit in another thread, though, so at least it wasn't a total wash. I enjoyed the prompt.

Flesh out what you have and toss it in here, schlomo.

Dec 17, 2003

Stand down, men! It's only smooching!

Parachute Strategy
1174 words

He had been staring at my note for a good fifteen seconds, and I was starting to worry that I had found the only illiterate bank teller in all of Atlanta. I was trying to be patient; I knew it wasn’t what he had expected and I wasn’t even sure if they trained low-level employees anymore on how to handle themselves in the event of a bank robbery. I figured there had to be some kind of video series, with bright 1990s gradients and a full cast of aspiring young actors mixed with their washed up counterparts, who weren’t even recognized during shooting. Still, he didn’t seem to understand.

“I don’t understand,” he said, looking from the note to my sunglass and scarf covered face. They were both Armani; they made me feel good.

“Why don’t you read it again.” The speakers were tuned to an easy listening station that I didn’t think actually existed on the general airwaves. I had never heard the song before, but apparently someone on staff had a penchant for lovely jazz arrangements of monetary themed music. Dollars and cents, that smell of success!…dollars and cents, it takes care and finesse! Drum fills, a small horn section, swelling violins. Somewhere, Perry Como was shaking his head.

“’This is…a hold up?’” He raised his eyebrows again. My hands were shoved in the pockets of my jacket and it was all I could do to keep myself from taking them out and wringing his neck.

The old woman behind me coughed. She had been doing this since I walked up to the counter. I wanted to turn and shout “WAIT YOUR loving TURN, GRANDMA” but that would have gone against the whole “try not to be noticed” thing I had going. I wish I had actually brought a gun with me; I would have been satisfied shooting them both even if I left empty handed. Even if it had been a toy gun, I could have thrown it at the decrepit wretch with the walker who stood behind me. I would have liked that.

The teller was still racking his brains, as far as I could tell. I poked at the front of my jacket with my right hand, trying to look threatening. “Single bills are fine. Any bag you have will do.”

“I’m sorry, did you want to make a withdrawl?” My face fell behind my scarf. This wasn’t a ruse; his hands were on the counter, not fingering any sort of hidden buttons. He was actually this stupid. I clenched my teeth and tried to ignore the chant of Shoop-shoop, sha-doop wafting down from above me. “No, I want you to fill a bag with money, and then give it to me.”

The confusion deepened on his face. “Did you fill out a slip? I’ll need an account number first.”

I suddenly wished he couldn’t read; then I could have at least blamed the schools. But this clearly was not his fault. No, I thought, somewhere along the line, someone had to have failed this gentleman. A teacher, a parent, most probably the person who thought he was fit to handle and count large sums of money. If I ever meet that person, I will punch them in the neck. I had been daydreaming for over a month of rolling on a mattress of hundreds, and now my only desire was to deliver justice to the stranger who stood before me, this poor shloob who had apparently never seen a classic western. Maybe he didn’t have cable.

“Look, man, I’m trying to rob you.” I shrugged, defeated. “Just take me to the vault and hand me a random safety deposit box. At this point, I don’t care.” The whole situation was irritating me. I was off schedule and it was looking like I was going to miss lunch. Above me, the horns gave way to a vibraphone solo, as a chorus occasionally broke through with doooolllll-aaaars---andcents! The old woman behind me coughed. It was like a circle of hell.

The teller blinked. “I don’t have access to the vaults, sir. If you’d like to schedule an appointment with one of our account specialists, we could get you set up with your own Secure Storage Unit, as long as we have one available.”

I stared at him. “I’m not really interested in that.”

He smiled at me. “Our interest rates are at an all time low!” I wasn’t sure how that related to a safety deposit box, but he seemed very pleased with himself to have had an opportunity to deliver this information to a potential client. The song above me had reached a fever pitch of whimsy. Dollars and cents! Climb your waaaay to theeeee top! My stomach growled.

“Let me be very clear with you.” I abandoned all pretense of having a weapon and pushed a hand to my temple. I was starting to get a headache. “I would like you to give me some money. It is not my money. It is the bank’s money. I am stealing it, like a bank robber. Which is what I am.”

He blinked again. “So, you’re interested in our Money Market plan?”

I suddenly felt a tap on my shoulder and a cough in my ear. I turned slowly and looked into a face that only a mortician would love. The face was not pleased. “What’s the hold up?” she spewed. Her breath smelled like lavender and formaldehyde.

The teller smiled at the hag from over my shoulder. “I’ll be happy to take care of you as soon as I’m done with this gentleman, ma’am!”

She frowned. “Tell this deadbeat he needs to hurry the gently caress up.” She stood back, satisfied, and whistled along to the tinny sound of her youth.

I smiled and moved close to her, patting her bony shoulder. “Do you have a health care plan?”

Her eyes clouded a bit, the milk of her cataracts storming over with dark clouds of non-understanding. “What? Yes. Why?”

In one motion, I grabbed her by the back of her jumper and shoved my free arm between her legs, grasping her buttocks. She couldn’t have weighed more than ninety-five pounds, and when I stepped back, it was easy to throw her toward the front doors. She sailed for a moment in the air then landed with a crackling thud on the carefully waxed tile. She slid another foot before she came to a stop, her bony fingers resting on top of what little of her wig remained on her head. It was silent for a second, and then the song above me shifted: Every time it rains, it rains…pennies from heaven…

I looked back at the teller, who had turned pale. He swallowed hard. “I’m not sure this branch can help you with your banking needs today, sir.”

“That’s ok. I’ve always preferred the philosophy of the credit union.” I turned, picked up the walker, and, slinging it over my shoulder, headed out, dreaming of a ham sandwich.

Sep 12, 2013

"Kill white people and get paid for it? What's not to like?"
Sins of the Father
(1,186 words)

“Well, happy birthday, Dad,” I finally said as my mother collected the bowls. She dumped them in the sink carelessly and walked out of the room. My father didn’t even look at her. He just kept staring at nothing.

All through breakfast, neither of my parents had spoken. They would just glance at one another over their untouched food. I was worried. It was my father’s birthday, he should be as full of life as ever. Sitting in his great chair at the head of the table, he looked broken and defeated, a shell of the proud and lively man I loved so much.

“Dad, are you alright?” I asked. He didn’t move. The silence was disconcerting.

“Dad, are you—”

“I want to tell you a story, Christopher,” he interrupted. He paused, inhaling deeply.

“My father was a bastard.” He had never mentioned his father before. I wasn’t even sure if my mother knew anything about him.

“On my tenth birthday, he bought me a knife,” he continued, his eyes staring down at the table. “He sat me down, grabbed my wrist.” As he spoke, my father raised his hand and placed it against the smooth wood. I looked down, saw the scars on his knuckles.

“‘You ain’t a man ‘til you’ve played pinfinger with yer ol’ man,’” he began, mimicking his father’s voice as he withdrew a knife from under the table. He kept staring at his hand, flat against the table. He lifted the knife into the air.

“Dad, what are you doing?” I stammered.

“I could smell the whiskey like he’d bathed in it,” he replied. He slammed the knife down into the table next to his thumb.

“Dad!” I was frozen in horror. He wrenched the knife from the table and held it above his head, still staring at his hand like a man possessed. “Dad, stop!”

He sliced through the air, the knife plummeting towards his index finger. I winced, shutting my eyes tight. The snapping of wood pierced my ears.

“‘drat,’” my father croaked, imitating his father’s drunken irritation. I opened my eyes to see this crazed man yank the knife from the table again. He held it in the air like a guillotine and screamed, with fury in his eyes, “‘Well, that middle finger won’t be so lucky!’”

I kicked the chair back as I jumped across the table, grabbing his arm.

“Dad, what the hell is wrong with you?” I held his arm to me, the knife inches away from his finger. I could feel him breathing haggardly, his rage escaping with each exhalation.

“I’m sorry,” he said, the knife falling to the floor as his hand relaxed, “I’m so sorry.”

“What are you sorry for, Dad?” I asked, laying his arm down carefully. I crouched next to him, the attendant at the side of his troubled king. Tears glistened in his sunken eyes.

“I hated my father,” he said, squeezing my hand, “More than anything. I’d go to the library every day and read all the violent books, hoping he’d die like the Germans or the Donner Party.” He paused, fumbling with his words. “Chlorine trifluoride. I read about it once, something about a one-ton spill of the stuff. Burned through a foot of concrete and sand. Surely it could burn through his bed…”

“Dad...” I trailed off, not sure what to say. I concentrated on the balloons with big fifties scribbled all over them, trying to avoid the feeble sight of my father.

“He didn’t come home on his fiftieth birthday. Maybe he’d finally stopped coming home to beat his wife and son. I went to bed dreaming of my father being murdered by loan sharks. Maybe they’d use chlorine trifluoride,” he continued, releasing my hand and placing it down on the table. “But all those dreams were shattered when I woke up to him sleeping in his bed like an infant. I grabbed that knife, started walking down the hall back to his whiskey-stained bed...”

He stared at the scars on his hands. My eyes widened with terror. It felt like hours were passing. Sweat beaded on my forehead. Did my father—?

“But then the police came knocking,” he sighed, “He’d been so drunk he killed a man with his car like some poor rodent. My mother was so happy we went out for ice cream.” He clenched his fists, rubbing the scars with his thumbs. He closed his eyes in anguish.

“Dad, why are you telling me all of this?”

“‘Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sins of the father.’ Exodus 34:7.” He opened his eyes. His face was blank. I reached for his hand, my fingers clasping his. They were cold.

“I’ve always tried to be a good father to you, Christopher,” he said, the familiar warmth returning to his voice.

“I know, Dad.” He pulled me close to him.

“No matter what... I love you, son,” he whispered into my neck, hugging me tight.

“I love you too, Dad.”

I felt something wet against my skin. My father was crying.

“Dad, I—” Splintering wood and angry shouting drowned me out. In the next instant I was forced to the ground, the wind knocked out of me.

“Dad!” My cries were choked back into my throat by the convulsions of my stomach.

“David Blake, you’re under arrest for the murder of Rachel Baldwin,” a voice said. The sound of handcuffs. The scraping of boots. Then nothing but my choked breathing against the tile floor.

“Christopher, are you okay?” I looked up to see my mother hovering over me. Her face was somber, her eyes red.

“Where’s Dad?” I asked, still gasping for air.

“He’s gone.”

“He can’t just be gone!” I struggled to my feet.

“Son, your father... Isn’t the man you thought he was,” she said as she reached out to hold me. “Everything’s going to be okay.”

“No!” I cried, pulling away from her, “I have to talk to Dad!”

“Christopher, you can’t—” Before she could finish I was out the door.

Then I’m speeding down the road, trying to keep pace with my racing mind. David Blake? My father’s name is Kevin Goodwin. I didn’t understand. The knife. My grandfather. The sins of the father. Exodus 34:7.

Speedometer rising to 100mph. Still can’t catch up to my mind. The police. Rachel Baldwin. Custody. Not the man I thought he was. None of it made sense!

Police sirens. I’m being pulled over. I can’t stop—I have to.

“Any idea how fast you were going?”

“I have to see my father!”” Heart pounding. I look up. Sunglasses. Impotent mustache. Gun in the holster.

“Wait here.”

“I don’t have time!”

I step out of the car. He stops, turns.

“Sir, please return to your vehicle.”

I walk towards him. Gun still in the holster.

“Stop right where you are!”

He comes at me.


I come at him.

Chlorine trifluoride.

Grab the gun.

Happy birthday.

Slam him against the car.

Sins of the father.

Pull the trigger.

Mar 21, 2013

Grimey Drawer
Prompt - crime, ditty, phlogiston

The Torch Singer

When she reached the middle of the first chorus, the microphone vibrated furiously and Abigail burst into flames. Her jaunty vocals turned to screams as the immolation spread to cover her sequin-spangled body-suit. Her long, lustrous hair, shining in the studio lights, caught fire before the unblinking eye of the camera. Unable to look away in time, it shared the sight of flesh melting from her face with the unsuspecting viewers at home before abruptly switching to the horrified faces of the judging panel.

Mr Coffee rushed over to her, forgetting the Master of Ceremonies microphone still in his hand. “Jesus gently caress!” he said to Mr and Mrs Neilson Family, “It was a Phlogistarter.” He whipped off his jacket and beat at the blaze. From backstage, Health and Safety Officials rushed forward, Phlogiston extractors at the ready, covering her in foam as she collapsed to the stage floor. Mr Coffee, now splattered with flame-retarding goo, tried to comfort the fallen singer. He wiped away the chemical coolant, taking with it roasting skin and muscle, seeing first hand the gleaming white cheekbones that bewitched the nation in the semi-finals. The sight was brief, the flaming bone blackened and charred before crumbling to dust. Soon there was nothing left of Abigail but melted sequins, glinting like diamonds on the studio floor, and the aroma of burning hair and flesh mixing with acrid, phlogiscated oxygen.

The singing, however, never stopped, continuing behind the screams. The timbre of the voice was different; deeper, almost husky, still fine but grimmer and less polished. The chorus ended, and the melody returned, a whispered cant unamplified, yet able to be heard above the shocked silence.

Never heard my heart stop, never saw the end come

Jaqui stepped onto the stage from the wings, her white dress plain and unadorned, her face without make-up, her voice heard in every corner of the auditorium. Mr Coffee spun on his haunches to face the arrival, his light brown face pale as a ghost. Jacqui made her way to the central mic, still perched on its stand where Abigail had left it, her voice growing in presence as she approached.

Never felt a raindrop fall into the ocean

The impossibly beautiful Carry Senders regained control of her shock-frozen body first among the judges. Her hand slapped down on her buzzer, and lay there for ten seconds. Jaqui stopped singing before the chorus returned, waited out the sound of the buzzer, and looked directly into Carry’s right eye.

“Yes?” she asked, almost innocently.

“What is the meaning of this?” asked Carry with all the authority of someone once married to a Beatle.

“It’s about losing yourself in someone else, finding out that there’s more…”

“Not the song,” said Carry, shaking her head erratically as if trying to shake the whole situation away. “This…” Her voice failed her, and she simply waved at the smoking pile on the stage floor.

“Abigail had to go,” said Jaqui simply. “She couldn’t win, not with my songs.”

“They are your songs?”

“They were once,” said Jaqui. “When I wrote them. Before that bitch stole them and told everyone that they were hers, played them in the auditions and heats and semis. Before she ‘captured the heart of the nation’ with that poo poo eating grin and those damned cheekbones, if you can believe that bullshit in the papers.”

“But this,” said Carry, “this was not the way to go about it.”

The two women stared at each other. The other judges, as if only just waking up, began to look around nervously for assistance.

Jaqui broke off first, dropping her gaze to her bare feet. “Maybe. Maybe not.,” she said. She lifted one foot’s heel from the ground, like a bird about to scratch for food.

“But at least you know now.” She lifted her head again, scanning the faces of the judges. “At least you all know.”

And then she began singing the chorus from where she had left off.

Never isn’t long enough to show the world we’re strong enough

She picked the microphone up from the stand, holding it gingerly.

I'll brave the fires of hell for you to hear the tolling bell

She held her note as long as possible, head thrown back, elbow lifted. The microphone vibrated above her lips, slightly at first, then faster and with greater vigour as the note continued. But the air in the room was too phlogiscated to allow any more human pyres to burn.

Jaqui finished the note, gasped for breath, and then let the microphone fall from her hand. She moved limply as Mr Coffee shepherded her off-stage to where the Police had finally arrived.

The Saddest Rhino
Apr 29, 2009

Put it all together.
Solve the world.
One conversation at a time.

“What I am about to describe to you,” she said. “Is a crime against fiction.”


The Failed Buffet Attack, Pro Forma Murakami (1,230 words)

Uncle Jeng’s was a blight. It took up two compounds too many, had a parking lot full of customer-reserved empty spaces and clamp-happy attendants, and the colour of a PB&J sandwich garnished with pickles and store-brand fries. The signage is set up in neon wireframes, all letters save for the apostrophe broken, and further illuminated by stadium flood lights.

It was also the only buffet that opened 24/7. It also had private karaoke booths.

At 3 am on a quiet Tuesday, Natalie and Con walked into Uncle Jeng’s.

“Welcome to Uncle Jeng’s Scrumptious Buffet,” the girl behind the counter started to say, then her mouth stiffened into a bottomless pit her professional smile had fallen into when Con aimed a pistol at her. “Move,” Con shouted at the girl and motioned towards the dining area. Natalie smiled after she had her ski mask pulled down. So far, so faithful.

The dining area had only a family eating. The father, his second chin dripping with meat juice, looked up from his barbecue ribs. Their petite 6-year old daughter screamed upon seeing the two masked felons. “Shut her up!” Con yelled and pushed the restaurant greeter, who fell on the linoleum floor before the family. “Pipe the gently caress down!”

“Language,” Natalie reminded. “Guns on them all the time, okay?” Con grunted in response. The parents of the family were on the floor hugging each other, spreading food stains all over themselves. For a brief moment, the daughter tilted a little to her parents before deciding to hug the much slimmer greeter instead.

A college-aged girl dressed in Uncle Jeng’s uniform came out from the kitchen. “Hell is going on here?” she said. Natalie pointed her own pistol at her. “Bless,” she whispered, raising her hands.

Natalie read her nametag. “Tamika. You’re the manager?” Tamika nodded obediently, but Natalie found her intense staring off-putting. She was scanning herself, Con and all parts of the dining area. Natalie could swear if Uncle Jeng’s operated an anti-terrorism unit, Tamika would be the commander-in-chief.

“We’re insured. I empty the cashiers,” Tamika proposed. “You go. We cool?”

“No, I want the buffet.”

“Girl, what?”

“I want you to grab all your takeout boxes and give me all the food here. Then me and my boyfriend.” Natalie pointed her gun away towards Con. “We want one of the best rooms and you all are listening to us sing dad rock karaoke for the whole night. With our guns at you.”

Tamika’s raised hands became a shrug – her mouth moved in various distorted shapes of disbelief. “Can’t I give you the money?” She protested. “The food ain’t even good! It’s cold as witch tits!”

“Don’t curse at her!” Con yelled.

Natalie hoped it would be wise to assume that with the job half done, it can be assumed it was truly completed and complementary. But Tamika was correct – the spread was occupied by stainless steel trays and dishes, mostly half empty, some of them with just tiny scraps left. The deep fried chicken had soggy batter, the ribs were dipped in sauces found in sewers, the fried rice might as well be fried lice eggs. Even the store-brand fries looked like limping POWs with PTSD.

“We got coupons,” Tamika offered. “2 for 1.”

Regardless, things were still going according to script. And Natalie was adamant it had to, food quality be damned. “No. I’ll take the food,” she said. “Oh, by the way, how much is a room per hour? We’ll pay for that.”

Tamika blinked. “Just the room? 50 per pax.” Upon Natalie scoffing Tamika added, “Buffet package’s 30, so it’s better to eat and sing, y’know.”

“How does that even work?”

Tamika shrugged again, her hands still raised. “I didn’t do econs, it’s all Chinese maths.”

“Isn’t Jeng Korean?” Natalie was about to say when someone in the dining area screamed. Natalie turned around to see the mother stooping over the father, who was clutching his stomach and twisting on the floor. Con’s gun was smoking.

“He was gonna rush me,” Con said weakly.

“What the gently caress, Con?” Natalie yelled. “This wasn’t part of the story!”

Natalie could feel Con’s expression behind his mask becoming indignant. “Story?”

Natalie ripped off her mask. “The book I gave you for your birthday, rear end in a top hat!” She shouted. Tamika and the other employee gasped. “You told me you read it! They didn’t shoot anyone!”

Natalie stormed towards Con and snatched off his face his ski mask, to further gasps of the girls. Before he could react, she slapped him across his bearded face with her non-pistol wielding hand. “You lying poo poo!”

“Baby, look, it was just a book, okay?” Con said, “I mean, like.”

But Natalie was no longer listening. “gently caress you!” The girls gasped even louder. “Didn’t you know how important it was for me? It was supposed to rekindle the passion in our relationship, rear end in a top hat! It was going to be perfect! I even had a playlist. A playlist!”

Con became serious. “Rekindle our… relationship?” he managed.

Natalie felt her eyes water. “It’s not working, Con.” She said.

“What isn’t working!” Con yelled. “Why do you have to say poo poo like that in front of everyone? Stop acting like some crazy broad!”

“Broad? Broad?!” Natalie screamed.

“My husband is dying!” The mother shrieked.

“Shut up!” Both Natalie and Con requested.

“Hey, man.” Natalie and Con turned around. Tamika cleared her throat, her hands still raised. “Your girl’s right. In that story the Japanese couple were like, they fell in love with each other again, y’know?”

“How would you know?” Con said, waving his pistol wildly.

“I did international lit.” Tamika shrugged again. Con grunted in that indignant way Natalie hated. loving Con. Natalie wanted badly to go home.

Tamika said, “the girl in the story, she’s the driving force behind the incident.” Natalie nodded, but noticed Tamika was walking towards Con in slow deliberate steps. “And, maybe, y’know, you gotta let your girl do the thinking. You listen to her. She’s got more brains than you.”

“And how would you know?” Con repeated. Natalie realised Con did not know Tamika was leaning very, very close to him.

“Well,” Tamika said.

Tamika lunged at Con and twisted his hand until he dropped his gun, kicked it aside and bodyslammed him on to the floor. Then Tamika pulled Con up, and dragged him towards the Chocolate Wonderfall, which was still flowing hot, sickeningly-sweet lavas of chocolate in all its spurting glory.

She stuck his head into it.

Streaming hot chocolate covered all over his face, creating a delicious beard of melted corn syrup and cocoa powder that would not stop growing. Con’s screams of pain came out as gurgles.

Natalie looked towards the other employee, whose hands were still up. Natalie rolled her eyes, nodded at her, then took Con’s gun and stuck it in her own jeans pocket.

“Nwatwie,” Con attempted.

Natalie took a glance at him. “We’re done,” she told him, then walked off. She passed by the family, and saw the mother praying.

“Praise the lord!” she cried. “My husband’s rolls of fat prevented the bullet from damaging his organs!”

The husband managed a stricken giggle. Their daughter beamed a beautiful smile, and told Natalie, “when I grow up, I want to be fat like Daddy.”

“I’ll teach your white patriarchy to eat all our poo poo, bitch!” Tamika yelled.

Barba crescit caput nescit,” she said, puffing her cigarette. “ Beard grows, head doesn’t grow wiser. That’s the moral.”

“I suppose,” Erik said. “You said you didn’t like the story.”

She shrugged. “I didn’t like it, not just because it happened to me, and my ex was a massive illiterate jerk. It treads way too heavily on an existing literary piece and it relies too much on the reader’s knowledge of it. Doesn’t bring anything new to the table. Only thing, maybe, is trading charm for faked irreverence. Trying to make everything too cute and quirky and stuff. The dad’s obesity, that was probably too much and the joke will die in a year’s time. Some of the real things are just too ridiculous, probably can be taken out.” She played with the cigarette in her hand. “But it’s a true story, and true’s true. Hard to deviate.”

“All good stories,” Erik said. “Would always have that ring of truth to it.”

“That’s fair,” she said. She took one last drag and flicked the stub away. “Would you prefer another version of the truth?”

“If the imagined facts would make the fiction better,” Erik said.

“Then what I’m about to tell you,” she said, “is the redemption for the murder of fiction.”

But that was a tale for another day.

(Prompt: Buffet/Beard. Reference story)

The Saddest Rhino fucked around with this message at 09:01 on Nov 25, 2013

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.
Disturbing ditty, pirate radio, write or die.

Good Help (870 words)

Penny for an eye
Penny for an eye
You won't die
Just a penny for an eye

Diana Fitzgerald was a lovely young woman before you got to know her. She kept a number of small service bells littered about the front desk of her back-alley establishment, the sound of a single one of which was enough to summon her within seconds of the ring. Footsteps would follow, a click of undiscernible origin, and out would step Diana from one of the many connecting doorways. Today it was the large, stately one with fingernail scratches down the inside. She shut the door behind herself, her face bright and earnest with the glow one might have associated with a young girl working at a flower shop. Diana kept no flowers. She had no use for them. On whatever occasion she would receive one she would thank the giver kindly and then drop it in the garbage.

"Ah, Mister Marduk and his associate. It has been awhile now hasn't it?"

Marduk was a simple man. He had a very specific classification system he applied to everyone, with all things and all people falling under one of three distinct castes: obstacles, appliances, nuisances. Diana was an appliance, as was his esteemed colleague of seven weeks, his associate, this time a towering man of great strength and sharp-cut features. In time his associate would degrade to a nuisance, and he would have to be replaced. Marduk didn't mind, and neither did Diana. It allowed her to meet new people, something she was never very good at.

"Miss Fitzgerald," Marduk removed his hat in her presence, "You are ever the picture of loveliness. I regret, it has been some time. Hopefully our visit will afford us a chance to catch up."

Diana smiled to Marduk and his associate. She didn't ask his associate's name. She had learned awhile back that would seldom prove necessary. Of more pressing concern was the hefty looking bag the associate carried over his shoulder. Diana's eyes grew, her hands clasped.

"Goodness me, I should hope that's only one. I'm afraid I won't have time if it's anything more."

"Just the one," Marduk assured her. "Just a big one."

Diana nodded, a certain streak of determination in her expression. Sleeves rolled up past the elbow, she made a short circuit of the room, checking the locks and the one window. It was snowing outside. She hadn't noticed. She made a mental note to pack something warmer for her trip to the market after.

With great care she removed each and every service bell from the desk and arranged them tidily before the drawn curtain. There were seventeen in all, each with a name Diana told no one. As she moved them she continued the ongoing tune she was known to hum, a strange little melody of her own invention. Sometimes it was simply that. Other times it had words.

Ma'll beat ya
Dad'll teach ya
But I won't lie
Just a penny for an eye

Marduk spied one of the clocks on the wall, of which there were three. Diana finished rolling out the butcher paper and sat down, leaning forward, her hands together, anticipation in her gaze.

"Come now," she said to the associate, "Don't be shy."

There was the briefest of hesitations. Marduk elbowed his associate, who blinked and nodded and laid the bag before the woman. Diana snapped her fingers and from a side draw retrieved an impressive knife of significant size. Gently, she opened the bag.

"Tsk tsk, oh Marduk, you've made a mess of this one. Not much salvageable this time I'm afraid."

"It was an accident, but unfortunately necessary. Work comes before kickbacks."

"A respectable philosophy to hold. Still, not much to appraise."

The man before he was fat and well dressed, his throat cut in a jagged line. A bullet had punctured one of his eyes as well, and his knuckles were bruised and bloody. Diana examined his good eye and teeth. Her cheerful disposition had soured a little. She clicked her tongue. There wouldn't be much out of this at all. She always hated it when she failed to be useful. Unlike many of her competitors, she had not had the good fortune to be born into the family business. It had been an errant transmission that had led her down this path, a radio station that no longer functioned, and every time she came up short she always feared it was her upbringing.

"What's the damage?"

"He's got a good eye and some teeth. There's still hope for the organs. Lungs?"

"He was a smoker."

"Terrible habit. Liver?"

"Also a drinker."

"Well, not like we're missing much without him on the streets," Diana nodded to herself. The knife she held was large, yet she wielded it with precision. The knife like the service bells had a name, but this one she wasn't too shy about using. "Let ol' Brother check you out then. Might be something we can use." A clinical silence enveloped the room, interrupted only brief with the reprisal of a verse.

Bro'll greet ya
Sis'll keep ya
And she won't lie
Just a penny for an eye

Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart
Entries are now closed.

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

STUPORSTAR. Your words are weak and whiny. Fight me now. One week, your prompt, 1k words, judgement from whoever got the notion.

sebmojo fucked around with this message at 23:04 on Nov 25, 2013

Mar 7, 2006

"So you Jesus?"

"And you black?"

"Nigga prove it!"

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

I shall judge the inevitable poo poo that you will spew!

vvv Yesss...

Mercedes fucked around with this message at 00:40 on Nov 26, 2013

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007

Mercedes posted:

I shall judge the inevitable poo poo that you will spew!

One does not simply judge a Stupor/Mojo battle alone.

Ok well since you asked I'll help.

edit: NEVERMIND our creator deity has forsaken us.

Sitting Here fucked around with this message at 00:42 on Nov 26, 2013

Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart
In the midst of all this thunderdrama, I bring to you :frogsiren: Thunderesults LXVIII :frogsiren:

Blah blah all failures blah blah divorce blah blah blood of thundersons and whorefish.

There was a lot of tepid mediocrity this week. You got strange ingredients and most of you churned out cold porridge, a strange flavorless mush that exists only to torment children in Dickens novels everywhere. Also, much like a Dickens novel, ... no that's about as far as that comparison will go. gently caress you all.


Winner: Fumblemouse who brought some pain to the stage with an immolatory tale of revenge. Despite an elevated weekly wordcount, he did more than many of you in a third less prosegoo. Arise, Rat King.

Of lesser stature but still some import, the judges will honorably mention that Quidnose should probably wear one of those ankle monitors when around banking establishments and God Over Djinn is pretty decent at pasting together the kooky and heartwarming, particularly for a virgin 'domer.


Loser: TheRamblingSoul. Soul, if you make a salad, you don't toss together beans, pecorino, passion fruit and sliced dicks. Your word salad, however, is analogously incoherent without any of the implied delicious minerals and proteins of the aforementioned dish.

And we couldn't decide on any dishonorable mentions this week because, well, you're all terrible, but terrible in your own unique special snowflake ways. For details, wait for crits. They are forthcoming.

Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart
Thundercrits LXVIII: Wherein Beef Eats the Pain

Nubile Hillock - something something SPACE 2315

This is amusing, but you need to lose the intercut scenes with the pirates. They add absolutely nothing while eating up your wordcount. The pies thing is fun and cute, but it's your only moment of levity in what is otherwise a by-the-numbers spaceship boarding story. It gets a little bit saved by the WALL-E sequence at the end, except I don't really see the dude as being suicidal over pies. I need either more pathos or more wacky. Your choice, bro.

Also, once you get into the WALL-E sequence your prose starts getting confused. For a second there, I thought he was using the extinguisher to somehow blow out the windows. I think you went a hair too far with the future-lingo, it started to grate around the pie fight scene.

Verdict: Butt-flossing with C-Ration Space Bacon.

God Over Djinn - Enemies

This is convoluted and almost works. It’s weirdly serious and tongue-in-cheek at the same time, but the extended Antarctic sequence interrupts the flow a little too much. It needs to be more personal and vivid to really illustrate how it changes Charlie; right now, his personality darkens for no apparent reason other than the plot demanding it. Also, Amelia is basically just a camera, which bugs me.

Mechanically, you’re mostly doing pretty well. It flows nicely, although there’s still some cuttable verbiage. Minor things. Try to edit another 5% off your word count next time, just as a challenge to see how tight you can get with language.

You do a weird mix of tight- and distant-third-person. At some points we’re close up on Amelia, watching Charlie, and at other points (“Amelia feels the soft percussion…”) we’re super distant. The middle section is extremely distant and cuts between Charlie and Amelia too much; just focus on the important character and let the important parts of the other character filter through the POV character’s perceptions.

Overall, though, this is oddly touching. You've managed to graft some decent emotional moments in among the weirdness, which is a difficult task. Like Hillock's, I either need more wackiness to distract me from the sudden character shifts, or I need to get inside your characters' heads more.

Verdict: Hip-deep in ice-cold poultry gizzards.

TheRamblingSoul - Baptism By Blood

Straight off, your title’s a cliche. That makes me pause even without reading your story. You open slow and weak; you really could’ve just started with the all-caps text and then cut to running in the forest.

Okay, dude. Next time you write, don't do five lines of coke right before drafting. The enter key is not your sparring partner, stop hitting it. Short paragraphs can give your story a swift, breathless pace when used right. If you write your entire story like that, it’s like trying to sprint through an entire marathon. Collect your sentences into nice paragraphs and break at appropriate times - dialogue/action alternating between characters, breaking to emphasize a given action or sentence, shifting between dialogue/action and exposition.

Between the aforementioned enter-key problem and the constant jumping between past-action, current-action, texts and thoughts, this is like watching a powerpoint presentation controlled by a sugared-up eight year old. Meanwhile, despite being in a continuous high-tension RUN RUN OR YOU'LL BE WELL DONE action sequence, your over-padded, passive
language is pushing me far, far away from actually giving a poo poo.

Your italics device doesn’t work well, especially since you use it simultaneously for Dave’s internal thoughts and, later on, to convey messages relayed by the kidnapper. That’s confusing. Pick one.

Start cutting adjectives, adverbs, sensing verbs. You're in the first person, goddamnit, you should rarely, if ever, need to tell me "I saw <something>". Just say the thing!

You’ve got weird problems with time and tense. In the second paragraph, Dave is running through the forest. Further down, after the police bit, it’s suddenly tuesday and he’s sitting at home?

Also, your characters don’t speak like people. A terrified, traumatized girl can somehow barf up a full expository paragraph of what happened? Which, you know, we could’ve guessed from what Dave had just walked through?

This is bad, really bad.

Verdict: You are the foie gras.

Kaishai - Tasting and Judgment

Another person immediately telling me about the past. :cripes: Your opener, to be honest, leaves me really cold. I get a bunch of details about the emperor, but they don't seem to ever much matter in the story that follows.

This moves slow and I don’t get the end. Devere’s character doesn’t come through strongly enough in your first half for the tension of the confrontation to really seem to matter. If eating the emperor’s beard is a death sentence, and Miyosen is kinda-sorta trying to poison them anyway, why would Devere test the beard and why would anyone else have eaten it if he hadn’t tested the beard? The story is vivid and macabre, but the logic behind it is all very foggy.

I do like the inventiveness here, though; the idea of a cabal of rulers who consume hair and nails to take on the strengths of their original owners is interesting and a good take on the prompt.

Random notes:

Italics on "firmly", necessary? I don’t think so. The mere addition of an adverb is enough emphasis.

How does the edged voice relate to knowing about the curled hairs? I'm confused.

“Duller than his vestments” - oddly jarring. I see the contrast you’re going for, but I don’t think this works. Just cut to “tarnished silver” or something.

Verdict: A clockwork Faberge cat which hacks up hairballs. The hairballs are soaked in mother-of-pearl.

Docbeard - Explosive Results

This starts off promising, but then slows down fast. Your prose is thick and slow, like it’s like literary molasses. I’m not liking things like how you’re trying to slip in character description in dialogue. It feels stilted and wooden.

Oh god the tense shifts, too. In one paragraph, you’ve got simple past, past-perfect, past imperfect and present. Jesus Christ.

I’d say slice away the entire interplay between the protagonist and the golem. It feels like you’re trying too hard to info dump on us about who the golem is and why he’s a golem to establish a sort of cybermancer milieu, but it doesn’t work at all. The dialogue is just a stand in for bad exposition, and so it itself becomes bad exposition. Work these details into your story if they’re important, cut them otherwise.

Your entire story is similar. Your characters are sock-puppets whose sole purpose is to jabber exposition at one another, often despite having ostensibly been together when the events they are expositing occurred. This hurts me, physically. Further, both dialogue and action are so overburdened with purple language and pointless details that I have trouble finishing each turgid paragraph before wanting to do something more entertaining, like my taxes.

Your core problem is that nothing of import happens. There is no emotive weight nor a fascinating plot to drive me through the story. There’s no message, and I didn’t read any particularly poetic and interesting words. 'Mojo thought it was wry and humorous, which saved you from the bottom tier, but I wasn't very amused nor was my sense of humor tickled.

This is an absolutely abysmal use of the dialogue-story framing device. We learn nothing about these characters, nor do they learn anything. The core mechanic behind a dialogue-driven story is that what is said and, more importantly, what is not said both show us important things about the characters and (generally) these things underscore some deeper tension between the two than the surface conversation indicates.

Verdict: A lifetime spent sucking on tamarind candy; it's sour, sticky and without any nutritive value whatsoever.

Tyrannosaurus - Nike

You have a talent for hitting my particular literary hangups. I hate hate hate the following and will thank you to excise these things from your writing toolbox:

“How many winters have you seen?” - Terribly fantasy-cliche. Unless this is illustrating something important, cut it down.

Rozavelt seemed to nod approvingly. - He seemed to nod? He nodded, drat you! When you’re showing us an action, you don’t get to “seem” to anything. DO OR DO NOT, THERE IS NO SEEM.

I glanced over at Rozavelt and he was smiling. - You’re in first-person. Just tell me “Rozavelt was smiling.” or “Rozavelt smiled.” and I’ll read it as the POV character perceiving the other guy smiling. This also means you can mostly cut your sensing verbs. I could see this, I could see that. No, just tell me what’s being seen. That’s one of the things first-person does well.

I’m not terribly fond of this entry. Mechanical issues put aside, this seems to be the beginning of a much longer tale about Nike and Rozavelt. Rozavelt himself seems mostly extraneous except as a saviour at the end. He has no discernible character traits aside from “grizzled wasteland hunter”, which is pretty cliche. Nike seems like a blank slate, which is what I’m given to believe is popular in YA these days. Did you write Hunger Games fanfic?

I think the core thing that’s bugging me is that the potential interpersonal tension between Nike and Rozavelt is defused at the end of the first scene. You want us to know that Rozavelt is a Good Guy, so you reveal he’s not a slaver, but looking for a hunter as an equal. (Which seems odd.) This would’ve worked better if the story was about Nike trying to earn Rozavelt’s trust, or vice versa. Without any interpersonal tension, everything after the first scene feels empty.

Jarring Details:

The middle scene seems to make the chickens seem really close, and then the third scene says it takes an hour to walk… somewhere. I’m not sure where, really.

If Roz has a working gun and ammo, what’s he need Nike for? Bait? That seems out of character given the first scene’s ending.

Verdict: Exhaustively copyediting Youtube comments for the Hunger Games trailers.

Quidnose - Parachute Strategy

I… what… the gently caress was that? That was some grade-B weird you just served me. A greedy bank robber gets foiled because a teller is too stupid to figure out he’s robbing the bank, and then he decides to chuck an old lady. I hardly even know how to judge this. It’s some dark comedy, competent without being great. Language could use some tightening in places.

I think the thing is, it doesn’t quite hang together closely enough. There’s not enough of a bizarre line of logic between the ditty, the teller, and the old lady. And why is the robber hungry? I have to be missing something here.

Still, it's amusing, it's competently written, and it stands well above most of the rest this week for being memorable.

Verdict: An overdraft slip printed on a jockstrap, gently used.

McSlaughter - Sins of the Father

Another cliche-title, hoy.

Okay, mechanically, we can do some cleanup. In a legitimate effort to speed up an action sequence, you’re using too many paragraph breaks. Just a few; the idea is sound, the execution is off. Don’t break between when a single character is saying something and when the same character then acts; paragraph breaks tend to signal switches in the action’s focus, like dialogue, so your action ends up like those fights in an early-2000s movie where it’s just two minutes of blurry poo poo while drums pound in the background.

See also: The advice for TheRamblingSoul's story.

The first half is pretty good. There’s tension there with the father’s mental trauma contrasting with the physical danger of pinfinger. I think this would’ve actually worked a little bit better with less interjection from the other characters. The illustrative actions of the father between his lines work decently well, I think. The other characters basically just prompt him to go on most of the time, and that stuff can be cut unless you want to rewrite it to show us something of their character.

The major problem I see here is that it feels like you’ve cut something huge out of the story, some line of logic that lets us figure out what happened to the guy’s father. As is, the story isn’t resolved, it just ends in a cop getting murdered. Things were pretty much going okay until the arrest, and then the whole thing flies apart into incoherence.

I don’t really see the point to the chase sequence at all. It neither adds new characterization nor resolves older plot lines. Same for the inner-thought sequence that leads to murder - the logic there just isn’t plain enough for me.

I will say you picked a difficult pair of plot elements; pinfinger is nicely worked-in, but chlorine trifluoride just feels pinned on.

This narrowly escaped a dishonorable mention, as I was somewhat fond of the emotion evoked in the first half, but you really need to work on cliche-spotting and plotting.

Verdict: Having to use a breathalyzer every time I start my car. By the way, I work as a whisky taster.

Fumblemouse - The Torch Singer

This starts off great, but the intercut between the singer igniting and the subsequent action is a little rough. I have a hard time believing the song continued behind someone burning and melting to death on stage!

The ending death is similarly a little odd. If the air was too phlogisticated for human life, how does everyone else survive? Mr. Coffee’s still alive at the end.

Oh, I get it. You’re directly saying she couldn’t burn up, which she’d presumably planned. It reads too much like a metaphor to me, as we’re not really in a close-third perspective to get that kind of idea from inside her head, so it seems like the narrator is telling me EVERYONE DIES. Work a bit on clarity, please.

Also, obscure typo. “Phlogiscated" should be “phlogisticated.” :smug:

I’m not so sure your ditty was catchy, but, well, this is the strongest thing this week.

Verdict: Laryngitis, and that means a dude with an alp-horn is going to be standing in your office all day.

The Saddest Rhino - The Failed Buffet Attack, Pro Forma Murakami

Tense shifts in the opening quoted paragraph, and there's typos littered everywhere. RHINO! It all mars your weird and wonderful similes. I love fries compared to POWs, the parking lot compared to a sandwich. But then:

How do we know what the character is "about to" say? :(

How did a gun go off without anyone noticing?

“Natalie ripped off her mask”. Where’s my Scooby Snax?

Okay. On the other hand, I cannot stop laughing at the chocolate wonderfall scene. It reminds me of long college nights wasted drinking free coffee refills at Denny's until the morning shift got in and kicked us out.

This story is hosed up, funny and self-referential in half a dozen ways. In spite of many, many, MANY flaws - primarily mechanical ones, but the story starts to drag before we get to the wondrous wonderfall - I still like it.

Verdict: That part of Pulp Fiction where Samuel L Jackson shuts down Pumpkin and Honey Bunny, except you’re none of the three lead roles. You’re the guy laid flat-out by the doorway you can see briefly when Pumpkin and Honey Bunny run for their car. Next time, bro.

Bad Seafood - Good Help

This ends well before it needs to. Your big reveal is that the sweet little storefront girl is buying organs and body parts from some kind of sinister criminal, which you build to quite nicely. Thing is, without seeing any of the logic behind their actions, this is like Diana’s cover persona - pretty, but empty.

Also, there’s a minor mistake in one paragraph: “The man before he was fat and bruised”.. I presume the man before her?

Really, I don't have much to say beyond that. I thought it was unremarkable and bland, but not actively bad. Without any characterization or point, this is nice prose serving no master, and it's not hallucinogenic or vivid enough to enjoy as poetry, like some of your weirder weeks.

Verdict: Spoilt leberwurst made from a hog raised on Canadian Club.


Mar 21, 2013

Grimey Drawer
:siren: THUNDERPROMPT LXIX - Good, Giving and Game :siren:

Well, well, well. 'Dome Number 69. Stop giggling, or I will hit you with my scepter which is made out of a metal ruler and has a picture of a nun on it.

For this weeks prompt, you must write a 1000 word (maximum) story with all these three elements:
A good person,
A gift,
A game.

Slice those how you like.

Flash rules will not be arbitrarily assigned by judges this week. Instead, like the venereal diseases that so profoundly affected your intellectual development, they will be passed on one to another. You will include a flash rule of ONE sentence with your sign-up post. That flash rule will infect the next person to sign up, for good or ill. Post order is the final arbiter, so if someone grabs a rule you liked before you get it, tough, you're stuck with nasty dose of their flash rule. Because in the ThunderDome, not even Penicillin can save you.

Judges: FumbleMouse, Bad Seafood and possibly someone who knows in their heart who they are, but have yet to openly acknowledge it

Sign ups by Friday 11:59pm, entries by Sunday 11:59pm. Your timezone for this week is...EST

Flash rules:

Quidnose:Your story must pass the Bechdel test.
Sebmojo: Your story must not be set after 1960
Surreptitious Muffin: No death, murder, violence or crime. Or divorce.
Zack_Gochuck: Must include characters from your country's mythology.
mastajake: Your entire story must be set on a tour of some sort.
crabrock: Your protagonist has an STI
God Over Djinn: your story involves a lost journal of great personal value.
Obliterati: Your protagonist is over the age of 70.
RoeCocoa: a pet has gone missing in your story.
Nubile Hillock: your story must include a verse from a country song.
Tyrannosaurus: your story must include a Chevy truck.
Mercedes: somebody needs to squeal like a piggy.
Your Gay Dead Son: Someone ruins Thanksgiving. Again
Nikaer Drekin: Your story must include a stolen toilet.
Bitchtits McGee: Your story must somehow incorporate a movie considered one of the worst of all time.
Optimus Prime Ribs: Your main character is heavily medicated.
V for Vegas: Your story must involve a magic frog potion.
Jeza: Your story must be in reverse chronological order.
Helsing: Your story must be about something being "broken into pieces".
Kaishai: Your story must begin with the protagonist dying.
Walamor: Your protagonist is mute.
The Saddest Rhino: Your protag must be on an nontraditional vacation and your story must reflect that, not just be mere window dressing.
Docbeard: Your protag is a depressed rhino.
Lazy Beggar: You must get your story's title from The Doctor Who Episode Title Generator and the title must be relevant to your story.
Magnificent7: Your story must take place in a kitchen
Symptomless Coma: No characters over the age of ten.

Fumblemouse fucked around with this message at 01:03 on Nov 30, 2013

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