I threw back a couple of snifters of whiskey to convince myself this was worth submitting.
Jonathan stood off to the side from the thickest tangle of drunken revelry. He had arrived at the Johnson brothers’ annual New Year’s Eve party about an hour ago. The festivities were not as debauched as he remembered them being in his high school days but it was still a lively affair. He took a sip of his beer and surveyed the shifting conversations.
A familiar shade of blonde in the rear of the living room caught his eye. “Hey Janet. How are you doing?” Jonathan said as he walked through to where he had spotted most of his old clique. “Bill, Kate, Matt.” He added, greeting each in turn.
“Johnny!” Janet embraced him, half her drink spilling to the floor. The others, in turn, acknowledged Jonathan in their own manner: Bill with a fist bump, Kate with a smile, Matt with a handshake and a half.
“How’s everyone doing?” Jonathan said, laughing only after speaking. “I haven’t seen you guys since high school. It’s weird how we all just lost contact.”
“Yeah, we just lost touch.” Matt said. Bill and Kate glanced at one another. Janet steadied herself. There was a brief pause in the conversation. Janet poured back what remained of her drink. Bill and Kate moved closer together. Matt just stared over Jonathan’s shoulder, at the commotion in the centre of the room.
“What’s everyone up to?” Jonathan said. “Janet, how was university? You look like you’ve put on twenty pounds since high school.” Janet dropped her eyes to the floor. Matt cleared his throat. Jonathan kept his eyes on Janet with a smile, awaiting an answer.
Bill cut in, “So, are you dating anyone seriously? Jonathan’s gaze shifted. “No. The usual, I go on a few dates. We drift apart. I’m still looking for Ms. Right.” He paused for a second, “What are you guys up to? It’s been so long. Everyone still just dating around? ”
“Bill and Kate got married.” Matt said. Jonathan’s eyes widened slightly, “Really?” Matt nodded. Bill and Kate shifted uncomfortably. Janet still had her eyes glued to the floor. “Are you guys for real?” Jonathan asked again. “Yeah, we got married last year.” Kate said. “Last year.” Bill agreed.
“That’s crazy.” Jonathan said. “If you had asked me in high school, I would have said that you guys would be terrible for each other.” An uncomfortable cough emerged from someone. No one responded.
Janet’s head jerked up. “I have to go to the washroom.” Her disappearance left a hole in the circle causing everyone to move closer together to close the gap.
Not taking much note of Janet’s departure, Jonathan plowed on, “I just graduated from school this Spring, that’s why I’m back in town.” Bill, in response, “Matt got his degree this Spring, too.” Jonathan turned to Matt, “So you didn’t flunk out after all.” Matt raised one eyebrow. Jonathan elaborated, “Well, you always had a hard time in high school. I was surprised when you got into university. I wasn’t sure if you were bright enough to get through four years.” Again, a brief pause in the conversation, this time everyone was still. “I think I need something stronger.” Matt said as he passed through Bill and Kate heading in the direction of the Johnson family home bar.
Jonathan blithely turned his attention back to Kate and Bill. “Married, huh?”
“Yeah, for a year now. Listen, my little sister’s somewhere here. We need to find her and make sure she’s not getting too drunk.” Kate apologized. “Yeah, see ya!” Bill yelled over his shoulder as he led Kate by the arm through the crowd of revelers.
Jonathan watched them for a few seconds. After they disappeared into the next room he took a second sip of his beer and returned to surveying the party.
|# ? Jan 27, 2013 21:50|
|# ? Jul 2, 2022 01:33|
THUNDERDOME WEEK XXV? - TWINKLE CAVE ENTRY (1210 words)
PROMPT: I want stories of someone who tells the truth or doesn't tell the truth and gets What They Deserve.
In November 1873, Alfred Packer was in a party of 21 men who left Provo, Utah, heading for the Colorado gold country around Breckenridge. On January 21, 1874 the party met Chief Ouray, known as the White Man's Friend, near Montrose, Colorado. Chief Ouray recommended they postpone their expedition until spring, since they were likely to encounter dangerous winter weather in the mountains.
Despite this, a first group ignored the chief's warning and set out, but prevented Packer accompanying by threat of death on account of Packer’s failure as a guide and general wretchedness. A second group struck out days later.Packer did join them. Over the years, Packer changed his story many times about what really happened. One thing we do know is he was fat and well fed in the spring.
"Don't foller if yah value yur mortal weight," the Captain said leveling the gun at Packer. "I've told yah before, and now my seriousness apparent, I'll shot yah dead, dead, dead."
Packer stood frozen, afraid to turn back, but not stepping forward either. The others in the camp who'd decided to stay with Chief Ouray, watched on as the Captian led the departers through a cut in the pines.
"I've paid my way and provided my services," Packer complained later, "This is a free land, which I fought my way for, to go where I want. None own Colorado."
The chief nodded, but Reddy interjected, "Your services that led us lost thrice," he said, "you're bout as good a guide as solider." They all knew Packer'd been discharged; twice.
"A passable soldier I was," Packer claimed, "Just on account of my spells they parted ways, for nothing else. And thrice I returned us to the path." This carried little weight in the consort, all having grown tired of Packer's excuses and proclamations.
Several days passed. Some of the remaining men decided to strike out as well, also ignoring the Chief's continued warning of winter conditions. "I ain't fraid of a gettin a bit cold," California said, "It's rich lettin that bothers. By spring, like to all the gold'll be claimed up."
"I concur," said Reddy, "I'm of a mind to forge ahead. I've borne considerable worse and not broken yet." After some deliberation, five men of the remaining 12 decided they would strike out in hopes of a claim.
"Packer," Reddy announced in the morning, "we've decided that your to attend, as we know you're rooting, and five bodies isn't enough to work a claim correct." He took a long drag on his stogie before California chimed in.
"But don't think yur to be jabberin all the way, or doing nuthing but mouth shuttin." Packer nodded, committing for now. California continued, "Yeh only put in 25 miserable dollars, and you'd used up all yer welcome."
"I don't trust 'em," Swan spoke up, "He's bin askin after our monies and over direct the entire trek thus. He's a scoundrel mouth snake."
"Dully noted," Reddy said. "If I were you," he said staring at Packer, "I'd heed California. Keep your mouth bones tight."
Shannon Wilson Bell, James Humphrey, Frank "Reddy" Miller, George "California" Noon, and Israel Swan set out into the wild along the same path as the Captain's group had a week before. Alfred Packer trailed behind, being given an overly heavy pack as the outcast.
After 12 days, the brutal cold set in. "My shaking's got the shakes," said Humphrey.
"You shut the hell up are yull be back thar with Packer tracker," California said.
"Don be tellin who's who to shut up," Swan said, "we're all just gettin through this frozen waste."
"All yall shut up," came in Reddy, "I'll be giving direction. There's only one rooster in this hen hole." California gave Swan a disdainful look and sidled up to Reddy. Nothing else was said that day.
After this exchange, Shannon Bell slipped back and walked next to Packard. He’d been doing that. Not saying nothing, just walking along. He stared at people a little long too. So they called him Spooky sometimes, if they remembered he was there at all.
That night, the men made a fire. Falling asleep, all of them but Packer had their feet-end to the fire. Packer kept his head near, on account of his belief that it would stave off his epilepsy.
Packer woke to complaining from Bell's direction, "I'm so drat cold." It was hard to tell his voice cause he hardly ever spoke. "I'm so cold," He kept repeating.
"Shut ur godforsaken sonofabitch mouf," California yelled.
Packer was cold too in the body, but his head was hot and sweating. He decided to take a piss at the tree line. He could see the water cooking off his face as it evaporated.
He got his fly down, then heard a commotion. "I'm cold Packer." It was Bell coming up on him. He held a hatchet.
"Whatcha doin with that stick splitter," Packer asked him. He he crawled his fingers across his waist to his hip.
"I dunno fer sure," Bell said, "I think'n I got to do something." He was pacing. "Them fellas are gonna get us killed."
"Don't fret on it," Packer said "Think of the summer, think of gold." His dick was still out, his hand at his gun.
"Nah, they're gonna get us killed," Bell replied, "Dying don't matter, but I don't wanna freeze. You know the way back?" Bell waited with his head cocked as if making a decision.
"Sure I do," Packer lied, "but everything's all right. I've had my spells. I know how crazy can feel. You gotta breathe." Packer's head was swirling with fear, Bell was losing it.
As relaxed as if he were staking a tent, Bell walked over and swung the hatchet into each of the four mens' heads. Quick, 1, 2, 3, 4, and just like that they were dead. He hit them each one more good time, as if to make sure they were snug, then slid their bodies into the snow, took their blankets, and bundled up in them.
"It'll be alright Packer," Bell said, "We'll be fine. We'll make it back now."
Packer approached the fire, gun drawn. Bell slept sound. Looking at the cleaved heads, he sat down to think.
Packer, surrounded by bloody snow, felt a seizure edging in,. He huddled up to the fire, trying to warm it off, but he started to convulse.
Angling himself away from the flames, he writhed in the cold pack, looking at the stark stars, wondering if he'd die. He passed out.
When he woke, Bell stood over him with the hatchet.
"You can't get us nowhere," Bell said, "can ya."
Packer shot him. Bell slumped to the ground saying, "Better this way I reckon." Packer discharged another round.
Scared to wander, Packer built a small shelter. He rolled the bodies into a drift face down. Still lost and trapped by snow, he began to slowly starve. Eventually he went to the bodies, he bent to the only one with skull still intact. Unable to bare the face, he pretended it was a steer, and knifed away the first strip from Bell's shoulder.
He threw the cut into the pan and it sizzled.
twinkle cave fucked around with this message at 04:41 on Jan 28, 2013
|# ? Jan 27, 2013 23:15|
Family Night - 1422 words
"There's a monster in the woods," said Abby, ever solemn, her tone freezer-crisp. A chill ran down Karen's spine, making her shoulders stutter even in the arid summer evening. She worked them into a shrug and scratched the back of her neck.
"There's no such thing as monsters," Karen said. Her voice was tinny with shrill cheer. Abby sighed, the world-weary exhalation of a tired old woman.
"We've been over this," Abby said. She pinched the bridge of her nose between her fingers, a childhood mimicry of adult exasperation that was heartwarming in its sincerity. Karen smiled. She dropped down, child's-eye-level, and crouched on her heels to ruffle Abby's hair. Abby swatted her hand away. "You're not listening! There is a monster, and he says something bad is gonna happen."
"Abby, why would a monster talk to you?" she tilted Abby's chin up, looked into her eyes, and gave her what she hoped was a reassuring smile. Abby shrugged.
"I don't know, he didn't tell me. He just said we should go away and do it right now." Abby said. The color drained from Karen's face. She placed her hand on the counter and pulled herself up on unsteady feet.
"When was this?" Karen said. She gripped Abby's shoulders and searched her eyes. Abby's eyes went wide and she stammered while her brain tried to connect her thoughts to words.
"He just told me, he told me to go inside and tell you. I think he left though." Abby paused and concern knit her brow, "Mom, what's wrong?"
"What did he look like?"
"He was tall and black with big green eyes, but they were all green with no white or anything, and his voice sounded scary but he told me he was nice," Abby said. Her voice trailed off and tears formed in her eyes. "Mommy?"
"We need to leave," Karen said. Her eyes were glassy and distant, her jaw slack and her face blank. She shook her head and jerked back down to look at Abby. Focused clarity. "Now!"
Abby began to wail and Karen scanned the room. She snatched her purse off of the counter, upended it, sent a cascade of small luxuries clattering to the floor. In went trail mix, bottled water, from the drawers emerged a small flashlight, a lighter, and a knife. Karen threw her purse over her shoulder and knelt again in front of her daughter.
"Listen, sweetie, we have to go. The monster was right, okay? He was a nice monster, you were good to believe him. I know him," Karen said, smoothing Abby's hair. "He's protecting us." Abby's chest heaved, her tears choked and silenced by her terror. "Shh, shh, Abby."
Karen looked around, prey-eyed, and scooped Abby up in her arms. The child curled against her chest and clung to her shirt, to her hair, yanking some out by the roots. Karen's eyes watered but her steps did not falter as she shifted Abby's weight, her free hand seized and brandished the flashlight, and she raced out the back door and into the woods.
They traveled away from all paths, all settlements, winding through the dense underbrush serenaded by the calls of the night creatures. Karen's grip tightened around Abby until her arm was sore and her daughter wept as much from the pressure on her ribs as she did her fear. Her free hand flashlight-scanned the forest and stopped when the light settled on a run-down old farmhouse that sagged, defeated, under the weary burden of its age.
Karen tossed her flashlight to the floor. She left it on and pointed away from the outside. She shrugged off her coat and laid it down on the filthy floor, a nest for Abby. The child fell asleep within moments. Her shallow breathing and soft cries narrated her fearful dreams. It was not long before Karen heard quiet footsteps approaching the doorway.
"Please, come in," she said. Her voice rang hollow in the empty house and the bitter edge to her words clattered against the bare concrete. A man stepped into the flashlight beam and the smooth black material that covered him from head to toe seemed to shimmer in the fluorescent blue glow. His face was obscured by night-vision goggles and a mask that distorted the sounds of his breathing and his speech.
"Karen," he said. Even through the echoing crackle of his mask his voice was gentle. "How's Abby?"
"Scared. Tired. Hurt. I don't think that's gonna be changing for anybody now."
"It's not," he said. He nodded at her, then at Abby. "But you can make it easier on her. You're loving her for both of us now."
"I've been doing it for years. You don't need to tell me that," Karen snapped. "Why don't you just leave? I don't know what all of you just did, but I know enough to know it's not good. I know enough to know it'll bring them down on you--and not just on you, on all of us. The least you could do is help us survive."
"She thinks you're a monster. You know that? That's what she called you when she told me what you said. From where I'm sitting, I don't think she was too far off."
He looked away. Karen scowled at him, a weaponized stare that bored into the side of his skull. He shifted and cleared his throat. She shook her head and cradled Abby on her knee. Karen tapped the girl's sides for bruises and trembled with sympathetic pain each time her daughter cringed away from her hand.
"Maybe I am," he said. Karen didn't look at him but she paused mid-motion, alert paralysis. "Hell, I know I am. I know--well, no, I can't know. I can't understand how hard this has been for you. But it's been hard on me too. I thought staying away would keep you safe, but it didn't. I don't know if you could ever be safe now. All I know is, run. Keep running. Maybe you'll find somewhere better. Maybe in the time it takes this place will get better. But it's all you can do. I've sent out the word. You know what the signs are and you know they'll mean safety. That safety won't last. You'll just have to keep moving."
Karen shook her head and gave a soft, bitter laugh. "Fine. Fine! Can you at least tell me if we'll be safe here tonight?"
"You will. I'm staying," he said. He looked at the ground. "If you'll let me."
"Family night?" Karen said. She looked at him and a gentle smile brightened her face, chasing away years of misery like shadows taking flight from the dawn.
He settled onto the floor with his back against the wall. He rested his elbows across his knees and his hands dangled limp above the floor. The cold glare of his goggles fell on Abby's sleeping silhouette. A sigh that was half sob was warped into an unearthly howl by his mouthless, dead-eyed mask. His pain dimmed Karen's smile.
"She's sound asleep," Karen said. "Don't think a marching band could wake her. Would you like to...?"
"Yes," he whispered. He scooted across the floor with a puppy's dignity and settled in next to her. His fingers trembled over Abby's head and Karen softly pressed down on the back of his hand. Gently, as though he were afraid she would shatter beneath his hand, he stroked his daughter's hair.
"She's a great girl. There's a lot of you in her. So serious," Karen said. She spoke of Abby but her gaze never left him.
"She's got your strength."
"Both of ours." Karen stroked his hand and leaned in towards him. She frowned and gently tapped his mask. He shook his head.
"I'm sorry, but you know I can't."
"Yeah. I know. You do what you can," she said. Her hand trailed down the side of his cheek, his neck, leaving ripples in his suit that smoothed within seconds of her passing. The grim mask she caressed regarded her with impassive dignity while the man behind it thrummed with a shifting swarm of emotions too numerous to define.
Karen drew Abby into her arms, close to her chest, and the monster shielded her back with his body, his arms draped over her and around Karen. He leaned his forehead against hers and when she closed her eyes it was almost as though he had never worn a mask at all.
|# ? Jan 27, 2013 23:22|
Look at you, sport - 1,394 words
Why is he trudging through the snow like that, kicking snow banks onto the sidewalk, stomping it until he hits the grass?
Not content to sniffle a little, he snorts like he’s about to hock the biggest loogie there can be. “It’s the fourth time this week! I should’ve known better than to think every day would be like Monday. How could he forget time and time again? He knows I get off at two thirty!”
He kicks the snow in front of him, his little black boots capable of clearing any path today. “How could he forget to pick up his son? His son!”
Right now he just wants to get home. It’s not far, the trip is only ten minutes, but it’s so cold today that his mom insisted. “I bet he’s drinking. Yeah, that’s what he’s doing. It’s what he does every night, it’s what he does every day. He just sleeps and drinks and watches his dumb movies. Just last night, I was playing with my Legos, right? Well he comes downstairs and tells me to go to bed. It’s only like seven!”
His backpack, filled with scraps of paper from as far back as the beginning of the school year, weighs entirely too much for a middle school boy. He sets it down, who cares if the stuff inside gets wet? It’s all old, anyway, he keeps the important work in his coat pocket. “I hate that I know what he does at night. I hate that I can see the big plastic bottle just sticking out the top of his duffel bag. I hate that I know what he’s going to do with it and I hate that I can’t do anything to stop it.”
Just a few months ago, back when it was still warm out, back when the artificial beach was still open and fish would die from all the toxins in it, back when you couldn’t walk on the beach because it was so filthy and covered in beer bottles and fish bones and condoms, his dad wanted to take him fishing. Yeah, fishing, when he was six his dad would use fishing as an excuse to go out and drink. His dad would just get out of bed and go take a drive or something. Anyway, his dad asked him if he wanted to go fishing. “I told him no, I’m tired, I don’t really want to, sorry. So he drives off, and I start feeling bad. I start thinking maybe I should have gone with him, cause he looked pretty hurt. I mean, we won’t be able to do this every day, you know. I decided right then and there that the moment he comes back I’ll be waiting for him and we’ll go fishing or whatever. He’s back pretty quick, really, and I go to greet him in the garage as he’s pulling in and I see him take a swig out of one of those big plastic bottles. He told me he’d toss it, but I don’t think he did.”
“He’s gonna toss it today, though. I’ll make sure of it.”
Did he forget the code, or are his gloves just too big? Third times a charm, and now the garage door lets him in. His dad’s car is in the garage. That drat car, he heard his mom yelling at dad last night over it.
“You have time to clean that drat car, but you don’t have time to clean the house or find a job? You don’t go anywhere, so why do you even need the car? We should sell it, then we could actually have some money around here. We’re just barely getting by, why don’t you do anything?” Of course his dad’s response was to “go to sleep”.
He can hear some people talking. His dad is probably sleeping in front of the TV downstairs, as he usually is. “His booze is more important to him than me. Is there anything else I could learn from this?”
If he were braver, he would go down and confront his dad right now. Just wake him up, demand he stops. His parents argue with greater frequency every single day. He hates it when they fight, and when they insult each other his face burns up and he can feel tears pushing their way to his eyes.
He has a bad work ethic. He procrastinates his way out of homework, but it doesn’t matter. He already finished math while waiting for his dad, which is the only graded assignment he has. “Mom will be home any minute. Dad will get up, and she’ll ask him what he accomplished. I’ll tell her then, I’ll tell her he didn’t do anything. He even forgot to pick up his own son, leaving him to make his way home in the cold.”
Should he do it after supper or as soon as she gets home? Would it make a difference? He doesn’t think about these things, and just plays his GameBoy.
His mom is pulling into the driveway now, back from a long nine to five job. He’s at the door, hugs her, and his dad is walking up the stairs, wearing beige long johns and a stained white t-shirt. His dad probably didn’t get up all day.
“So what did you get done today, honey?”
“He didn’t do anything, mom! He didn’t even pick me up.” His dad shoots a mean look at him. The truth is going to burst out, isn’t it? That’s his problem, right? Once he starts telling the truth he just can’t stop.
“Yeah, mom, he didn’t do anything. All he does anymore is drink. Look in his duffel bag, mom, he’ll have booze and porn there. I bet that’s all he does, drink and look at porn.” He tries to go downstairs and get the evidence, his dad stops him by grabbing both his shoulders.
“Let go of him, honey!”
“No.” He stinks, he probably started drinking just a few minutes ago, the rear end in a top hat. It’s his fault, isn’t it? His dad just won’t do anything. He starts squirming his way out of his dad’s grip, he’s a flexible kid, if he works hard at it maybe he can break free and just show mom what dad really does.
“Why don’t you do anything? Why do you just sleep downstairs all day and all night? No wonder our daughter is so messed up, no wonder she’s run off, she inherited it from a big nobody like you!”
He squirms and fidgets, and his dad is losing his grip. He might be able to make it, he might be able to make things right.
“I’m trying, alright? Do you think it’s easy being like me? You wouldn’t understand what I go through every day even if you studied it for your entire life! It’s the same way with our daughter, you’re too oppressive and you just scream at us all the time!”
He’s free, he’s running down the stairs, he sees his dad’s bag, he sees the plastic bottle, he grabs the plastic bottle, he runs upstairs, edging his way past his dad, and slams the drat bottle on the table. “This is what he does all day. This is the only thing he does.”
His dad is silent. He just looks at his son, staring at him, giving that same hurt look like the day they didn’t go fishing. His dad just walks out the door to the garage, then after a moment walks back in. His mom stands there with her hands on her hips.
“Where are you going?”
No answer. His dad goes downstairs, his mom stands at the top of the staircase.
“Where are you going?”
His dad carries only his keys, and gently pushes his way past his wife. He walks out the door to the garage, and peels out with his car at a haphazard angle, tearing down the shelves it was next to, sending old terrariums and tackle boxes and repair kits to the ground. Nobody could park there anymore no matter how hard they tried. He drives off, going down the road, going past the horizon, he can’t be seen anymore.
His mom walks out the garage door and tosses him a big broom. “Help me clean this mess up, would you?”
|# ? Jan 27, 2013 23:29|
I fear I've overestimated my skills and underestimated the Thunderdome. 1,480 words.
Reflex made me reach out as I shot clear of the ship. They say these suits are insulated, but I could feel the cold bearing down on me as the airlock shut. The only light now was my suit’s dim readout showing me I had two minutes of breathable air. They’d made sure I was sent out at full cabin pressure, a human missile. My neck was sore from where they’d stuck me with the needle. I could feel the delirium starting to take hold. I closed my eyes and I was back in the ‘dome.
Anje tossed the bag at my feet and slammed the door shut.
“You’ll have the money, right? We’ve got until tomorrow morning and those Systčme D guys don’t mess around.”
“Relax. We’ll be outta before they turn the lights on.” I tossed her a crumpled box of cigs.
“poo poo, it’s your last one.” Anje dropped the empty box to the floor and stomped it flat with the heel of her boot. “Better enjoy it, ‘cause we’re not gonna be hearing that for a while.”
We went quiet as the words sunk in. The sharp clicks of her lighter made me shudder; I hoped she hadn’t seen it. It reminded me of the quick click of the lasers. The videos had been all over the ‘net for a week now, someone with a secure link – they’d said something about entanglement – was beaming up videos of the attacks off the biodome security cameras. It was always the same: short, vicious and intensely violent. It was always in a crowded place. The market, the factory floors, the Grand Commons; all of them had been hit. First someone would fall to the ground, then it’d be a few more people. There’d be screaming and panic would send the crowd running. The attackers would open up then, mowing down the crowd with the sharp clicking of gas cartridges.
They said it was some kind of revolution. They’d taken over, found or made or sourced chemical lasers. Anje’s rented earth-link got us nothing but mock-ups and wild speculation. The ‘net went wild when there were rumours the faction was taking over a second dome.
“How do you figure they got all that way? You think they had a ship?” Anje’s thoughts had a habit of meeting up with mine.
“Naw, I think someone would have seen it. Maybe it’s just more in-fighting? I mean who’s to say poo poo like that wouldn’t happen here if someone could get themselves some guns?”
“So it’s just a coincidence?” She asked.
“Probably. They didn’t just walk the two hundred and fifty clicks.”
She nodded, but she wasn’t convinced.
“Either way we’re getting off this rock by tomorrow. Who cares what happens then? Maybe you should just kick back for a little bit instead of getting all weird like everyone else?” I slipped my hand into the bag and slid out the blister pack of pills. I pushed one of the tiny capsules out of its bubble and cracked it between my teeth.
“You better slow down with that, ‘specially if you wanna leave. They’re not gonna let you get wasted on their ship, you know.” Anje said.
“Hey, a little going away party never hurt nobody. I’m already packed and I’ll be straight in a few hours. Besides if I cleaned up all of a sudden people are going to think we’re up to something.”
“Maybe you’re right.” She said.
I could feel the warmth creeping up my spine, my vision was starting to blur. This was really good poo poo.
“What is this again?”
“Don’t know, they call it k25 and it’s supposed to be a good time.” She said.
I cracked a weak smile, my face was getting too heavy to move.
“poo poo, you alright?” Anje asked. She stood up and walked over, waved her hand in front of my eyes. I didn’t see more than a blur.
“You’re hosed! Have fun. I gotta pack, you know where to find me.”
I waited until just past midnight before I started gearing up the technician’s suit I’d helped her lift from the Academy. It took me longer than I’d wanted, but I told myself it would mean there’d be less people around. I slipped into the corridor and waved the suit’s magpass at the first service hall entrance. I held my breath as I watched the lights on the lock flicker. There was a click and a hiss and I was through. Unlike the ‘domes red stone walls and dimmed lights, this hall was grey and steel and well lit. I let the suit’s display lead me to the airlock closest to the landing pads, hoping the suit’s mirrored visor would hide my face from the cameras.
The last little bit of air surged out as the airlock opened. I started climbing the ladder to get topside, but stopped when I peered out of the hatch. I hadn’t been out in years. Red dirt went on for as far as I could see. A dusty orange haze hid the sharp cliff walls of our massive crater. I heard the ground crunch beneath my boots as I lifted myself out.
The landing pad was dusted with fine red grit and the ship was like something out of a cheap flick. Silver, gleaming, built like a wasp. It was a far cry from the boxy drones that dropped in on us almost daily. From the tapered a hold a delicate ramp extended to the landing pad like a stinger.
A tall man in an antiquated miner’s EV suit stepped down the ramp and flashed me the comm channel with his hand. I dialled it in and was met with static.
“You have the payment there, son?” A thick accent like I’ve never heard met me on the other end.
I handed him the bag. He took it, turned and walked back up the ramp and into the ship’s darkened hold. He waved for me to follow.
“We’ll count inside.” The comm hissed.
The lights came on after the hold had pressurized. A man stepped out from the access tunnel leading to the rest of the ship. The man I met, who I correctly assumed was the captain, tossed him the bag.
The man caught it awkwardly with his left hand; his right was busy with a rifle.
“It’s time for introductions. You can call me Jonathan. That man there we call Sammy. I suppose you are Constantin Levy?” The captain said.
“N…no?” I answered.
“But this is what it says on your suit.” His long, bony index finger pointed to the nametag on the suit’s chestplate.
“My name is actually –“
He cut me off before I could finish and looked me dead in the eyes.
“It’s best we leave things the way they are to, ah, avoid confusion later. Do you understand?”
“Call me Jonathan. And Levy, I’m telling you this once: we got one rule on this ship and you’re already breaking it. In space, son, you stay sober. Got it?”
“It’s just something for the nausea. I hear you can get sick if you’ve never been up before.”
He wasn’t buying it.
“Son, we have never had a problem on this ship. Understand?”
It’s not that I didn’t try. I made it three days before I broke down. I’d slipped a blisterpack into my boots. Jonathan must have had me pegged ‘cause he decided to do an evac exercise right about the time I was peaking. The alarms went off, someone was pounding at my door. I couldn’t get up to answer it.
They put me in a stripped-down space suit and dragged me down to the hold. There was a table set up. It was a kangaroo court, Jonathan had declared himself supreme judge.
The only witness was the med tech and he testified immediately.
“The defendant, our guest, is under the influence of opium analogs. Exact pharmacology unknown, but we have our suspicions, Captain.” His forced eloquence betrayed a certain smugness.
Jonathan slammed his fist onto the table and glared at me.“We have a verdict: Eviction!”
Without another word they dragged me off into the airlock. The med tech was flicking his finger against a syringe. The last thing I really felt before the helmet was snapped into place was the delicate poke of the needle as it broke my skin.
My glove bounced off the helmet with a loud clank, my eyes widened as I realized I couldn’t wipe away the trickle of blood streaming down my neck. The suit’s readout was flashing zeroes. My eyelids were getting heavy. Every time I shut my eyes I could see her staring at me. My heart beat slowly now, I could feel the vomit coming up but I was too numb to stop it.
|# ? Jan 27, 2013 23:40|
Before you send this out, you might wanna change this to Alferd.
|# ? Jan 27, 2013 23:42|
Well, I certainly went to an odd place when interpreting the prompt on a week where we're supposed to send out what we produce, herp derp
Sermon - 777 words
I have a confession to make. I'm tired. I'm so tired of being your secret keeper. You can't even begin to imagine how it feels. Day after day after day, these confessions, all of your secret sins - they fill me up with darkness, clouding all my empty spaces, making me impure while I absolve you, forgive you, fill you with light so that you can go about your day. You pick away at me, at my skin, stripping me raw and pouring all your anger, your hate - your evil - onto the wounds as you purge yourselves as if you can just make good with the Lord and take your tabula rasa away with you to refill with a new crop of transgressions for me to wipe clean next time.
It doesn't work like that.
And why don't I tell you a secret? I don't believe you when you say that you're sorry. You come clean about your lies, your blasphemy, your adultery, violence - your most unspeakable actions - you come clean in painful, microscopic detail and yet you lie. You lie when you say you're sorry, when you repent and beg for forgiveness. You think that only the Lord can judge you as you close
your eyes and ask for His blessings and your faces glow with relief that you've staved off the inevetability of hell for one more week.
But I judge you.
I judge you and I find you wanting and this is my true confession, my heart laid bare for judgement: I lie when I say that you are forgiven. I lie about your absolution and I lie about you being saved and I lie about how the Lord loves you because in the deepest recesses of my heart, I don't believe. I don't believe in a God that would allow people like you to continue to exist and do the things that you confess to day after week after month after year. I don't believe that God made you in his image because if he did then God is small and petty and broken, as ugly on the outside as He is on the inside. I don't believe that He sent His son to die for our sins, because in his almighty power He would have seen what a waste it would turn out to be.
He would have known you're not worth saving.
You look at me as if I hold the keys to a heaven that you would never consider doesn't exist,but who do I confess to? If I truly believed, I would have a direct line to the Lord in my head, like Joan of Arc but I don't, I just pray into a void and hope for answers that never materialize, because there's no-one home to pick up the call. You would think if there was a God He would have mastered the art of voicemail by now, because working in mysterious ways doesn't really work at all. Not for me, not for you, not for anyone.
And if God isn't listening, then who is?
Who can I confess to if not the Lord? This bottle, this gun, this paper, this ink? You? It becomes quite a conundrum. If I don't believe in heaven, is there still a Hell for me to go to when I leave here? If there is or if there isn't that's where I'm going anyway because the absence of hell would be a kind of hell in itself, funny how that works. Perhaps I'm already there and this life is just some exquisite punishment for a past sin, and that's why I can't stand to live in a world so swollen with malice and pain and selfishness that it I wish it would just burst and end itself. But it never will, it will just keep growing and swelling and crushing me with the weight of its pestilence, choking me until I can't breathe and my skin turns black and it compresses me into ash.
And so it comes down to me.
You won't become martyrs or angels or saints. You won't see any bright lights or smiling faces. Today you will all get what's coming to you, today you will find out if there is a hell or if there isn't or if it's here and it will make the world a brighter, less impure place for the rest of them to live in, it will ease the suffering you insist on inflicting above anything else and it will cleanse me of your sin and it will be nothing less than you deserve.
And I will see you there.
|# ? Jan 28, 2013 00:05|
Authorial Intent - 1499 words
On the inside cover of Boston Blood was Davis T. Werner's old signature, printed with the t not quite crossed and the e's not quite looped, little imperfections shipped with the millions of copies sold worldwide. Will shook his head and chuckled at the sight and added his signature beneath, making sure it was neat and legible; William F. Duncan.
"Thank-you, thank-you, you do such a wonderful job." Said the plump woman standing before him.
"Davis was a close friend, it's been my pleasure." He closed the book and handed it back as he rubbed the joints on his signing hand. The woman scampered out of the way and the next person approached.
"Big fan." The man said as he handed his copy over. "Your writing works so seamlessly with Werner's own."
"The less I'm noticed, the better." Will said as he opened the cover. As his eyes flitted down the page a lump caught in his throat and the pen froze in his hand. The words 'I KNOW ABOUT' were written neatly next to the old signature in red ink.
Will handed the book back. "I'm afraid your copy's been vandalized, signing it won't do much good."
"Oh please, I insist." The man slid the book back across the table.
Will flipped the lid open and scribbled a series of loops and squiggles before slapping the cover shut. "Thank-you, good day."
The man quietly left the line but not Will's mind. Another thirty people came and went but he hardly noticed any of them, their comments provoking only a few grumbled words and each signature performed by muscle memory alone.
Outside Will tightened his tartan scarf, the one he wore for all his events and promo shots, and corrected his gold rimmed glasses before crossing to the parking lot. He had a spring to his step, thankful that no one had hung around to pester him with questions or ask about future projects, but that subsided as he drew closer to his car. A lone figure stood nearby, just outside the glow of the streetlights, the end of his cigarette burning bright in the shadows as he took another pull and flicked it away. Will came to his car door and fumbled with his keys, his hands shaking as he searched for the right one.
"Mr. Duncan." The figure called, now starting his approach.
He found the key and unlocked the car, sliding into the driver's seat and reaching to close the door behind him but by then it was already too late. The man was leaning on the window frame, bent over and peering in. He was young-looking, maybe late twenties, with brown hair combed to the side and thick rimmed reading glasses that sat above a five o'clock shadow and teeth that needed flossing.
"I thought we could talk."
"Who are you?"
The man extended a hand inside. "Steven Morgan, journalist."
Will didn't return the gesture, instead snapping back. "For who?"
"No one, right now."
"You have to go through my agent for interviews."
"It's about Davis, I thought we could chat."
Will's grip on the wheel and door handle went white and it took some tongue biting to keep them from swinging. "You got some nerve bringing up his name around me."
"Doesn't seem to bother when you use it though."
Will felt like he could have yanked the door shut and driven off right there and then, maybe even dragging the fucker down the road by his coat sleeve for good measure, but a fire building under foot was better put out before it spread. "Get in then."
Steven complied and they set out for the highway, not speaking for the first few minutes, Will waiting for his passenger to make a move.
"So Boston Blood hit best-seller lists yesterday." The journalist finally said. "That's what, Davis' fifth? Sixth posthumous work."
"Man was a genius, writer of our time."
"With a little help from you of course."
Will gave him a sideways glance. "I add in scenes and do some edits, Davis had them outlined years ago."
"Must be quite a few of them. Tell me, is there a box in his house marked Bestsellers? Magna Opera?"
"Mystery thrillers are always in."
Steven smiled but didn't say anything else. They drove outside the city and in another few minutes came to a two story house in the suburbs with a semi-circle driveway and greco-roman columns decorating the front porch.
"Is Margaret around?" Steven asked.
"No, she's away." Will said, gritting his teeth over his passenger even knowing the name.
They entered the foyer and Will led him up to his study on the second floor. He put on a fire and they sat opposite each other.
"So, how did Davis Werner die?" Steven asked.
"Fell, while mountain climbing in Tibet, but you know that."
"Maybe. And he left his estate to you?"
Will frowned. "No, to his wife, Margaret."
Steven's palms went up. "But here you are, living in his home."
"I'm ensuring his legacy, I have no shame about it."
"You married his wife."
Will shrugged. "Grieving brings people together, I knew Margaret well before his death and we've always been friends."
"But more than that now."
A rush of heat ran over Will's head. "Did you come here to insult me?"
"Well I was brought here actually. Maybe there's something you'd like to tell me?"
"I'm sure you have it figured out."
"We'll see." Steven reached inside his jacket and pulled out an envelope full of papers. "What's weird is, I can't find much mention of you from Mr. Werner's past interviews. And the only books you've written are highly suspected of being ghost-written by Davis himself."
"That isn't a crime."
"No, but he gave you your career, and I suppose you're just paying him back now, is that it?"
Will closed his eyes and shook his head.
"A week before his death, there was a domestic disturbance call to this house. Margaret reported that Davis had gone insane."
Will steepled his fingers.
"And I have records that show Davis' last booking was to Northern Italy, not Tibet."
"Did Davis ever make it to Italy, William?"
"Or did you murder him?"
Will relented a long, deep sigh then stood and leaned on his fireplace mantel.
"I can understand a crime of passion William, maybe to cover up an affair? But I think you owe him, and everybody, the truth."
Will rubbed his forehead and smiled. "The mafia is still an issue in Italy, and there are companies there that aid police in witness protection." He unbuttoned his jacket and tossed it on the chair. "They hide people in a very unique manner, a manner that with a little camouflage." He pulled off his scarf and glasses, tossing them to the fire. "Can aid in creating something else entirely." He gripped the base of his neck and pulled, the skin ripping and peeling away, his whole face coming loose until even the scalp and hair went with it. Will tossed that to the fire too and turned back. "At a certain point, no matter what you write, it doesn't get through, doesn't ignite interest the way you used to."
Steven had sunk into his chair but tried to keep his composure. "Stephen King syndrome."
Will waved a hand. "Right, unless something drastic occurs, something that reignites the popular interest." He seated himself again. "And that's why I made William."
Steven ran a hand through his hair. "But..Davis, how long can you play this? Six is pushing it."
"Boston Blood was the last, I'm through, the arthritis is too much."
Steve sat up quick. "Well, that's perfect. Let me do this story, you get your catharsis, I get my scoop."
Will wiped the sweat from his cheeks and brow. "No, no that would not do. I have Margaret to consider."
"But I need this, I've been out of the job for months, I need that one big thing to get me back in with a magazine, a newspaper, anything." Steven was on the edge of his seat, ready to be on his knees at a moment's notice.
Will nodded. "You seem inquisitive, an eye for detail, and you have experience in writing do you not?"
"Yes." Steven said, trailing off as he tried to anticipate what the old man was thinking.
"Then, how would you like a job?"
The bookstore was bustling again, with people packed into the entrance and a line forming out the door and around the corner. A staff member opened the inner doors and ushered the first person towards the table. There she handed over her copy of The Killing Season to be signed.
"It was amazing, I can't wait to see what you do next."
The young author smiled and opened the book. "I can't wait either."
On the empty inside cover he signed his name with a flourish; Davis Werner Jr.
Canadian Surf Club fucked around with this message at 00:26 on Jan 28, 2013
|# ? Jan 28, 2013 00:23|
Tribal Politics (1,500 words on the goddamn nose)
“Councilman Fleming? Can you explain why you claimed to be Native American on your college application?”
Six-foot-two, blond and blue, firm of jaw and cleft of chin, Chad Fleming was an All-American Boy—just not that kind of All-American. He cupped his hand to his ear as Ernie Dekunder ushered the skinny dweeb with the combover out of Cedar Grove Middle School’s cafeteria.
“Sorry; didn’t catch that. The lady with the purple dress had the next question, I believe—yes, ma’am?”
He trained his attention on a shambling mass of a woman who’d decided to attend tonight’s town hall meeting in the guise of a giant grape. He let her rave on about utility bills and a lost schnauzer and how it was all the fault of the Mexicans, but inside his head, he was turning over sofa cushions and wondering where he’d left the file marked “CHAD FLEMING: SECRET INDIAN”. When he finally found it, he tried to jam it in the folder marked “CHAD FLEMING: CANDIDATE FOR DISTRICT 127 OF THE TEXAS HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES”, but it wouldn’t fit.
“The geek had copies scanned on his iPhone, Chad,” said Ernie, once they were safely inside Fleming’s Yukon Denali. The campaign manager stretched the seatbelt over his expansive gut and rubbed his graying temples.
“Oppo. He wouldn’t say it, but I’m guessing Hunnicut.”
Fleming winced. The GOP race for the House seat had been so straightforward until now. But if Hunnicut threw his hat in the ring, life was about to suck. Fleming inherited a couple million and made a couple more in real estate, but Deacon “Deke” Hunnicut came from serious down-home money, with good ol’ boy swagger to spare, and had no compunction about chopping a man off at the knees if he got in the way.
“You’re sure it wasn’t a Photoshop?”
“I would love for you to tell me that’s what it is. Tell me you ticked the ‘Honky’ box when you registered at U.T., Chad.”
“Oh, gently caress. Really?”
“I don’t know! Maybe my hand slipped.”
“It’s on your financial aid forms, your application—you even wrote your essay on the alienation of growing up Native in an all-Caucasian suburb!”
“Look, maybe my girlfriend was a second-generation hippie, and maybe we’d just chowed some ‘shrooms and watched Dances with Wolves, and maybe, when we got back to my house, my old man was going off about how I hadn’t sent out any applications, yet—”
“Hippie girls and hippie drugs will not play with the country club constituency. Okay. How far back can you trace your family tree?”
“Back to Austria, on my mom’s side.”
“How about your dad? Any gaps in the lineage?”
“Um… wait, yeah! My grandmother was adopted!”
“Dropped on the doorstep in an orange crate. This was during the Depression, in rural Oklahoma.”
“Perfect. You grew up proud to be one-sixteenth Cherokee.”
“That’s exactly what your father told you about your heritage: Your grandma was the love child of a white farmer’s daughter and a half-Cherokee ranch hand. A romance doomed by prejudice, et cetera. A tear comes to your eye every time you think about it. Now go home and tell Melissa and the kids that you’re indigenous.”
Hunnicut showed up in person the third time Fleming rolled out the Granny Mabel story. He strode into the VFW hall like a longhorn bull with a John Wayne fixation. The opposition researcher with the combover was right behind him with a video camera.
“Folks,” said Hunnicut, grazing the brim of his Stetson in greeting. “I’m sure y’all are as touched by Councilman Fleming’s story as I am. But I gotta wonder—how come his sister says it just ain’t true?”
He held up what appeared to be a deposition.
Janet? Fleming thought. Which rehab did they dig her out of?
“What say we just lay the whole issue to rest? I, Deke Hunnicut, offer to pay for Councilman Chad Fleming to take a DNA test. Consider it a token of collegial esteem, as I hereby announce my candidacy to represent the good people of District Hunnert-‘n’-twenty-seven in the Texas House of Representatives!”
He held his arms wide. Two doddering veterans woke up long enough to clap politely, but the room was otherwise silent. Hunnicut didn’t seem to notice.
“Now, Councilman—whaddya say?”
Fleming fumed. He held a junk hand, but he was damned if he would fold. If Hunnicut wanted to see his cards, Fleming could at least force him to ante up.
Fleming’s grip on the envelope was moist as he carried it back to the Yukon. He’d signed a waiver to permit the lab to release a copy of the test results to Hunnicut, but neither he nor a courier had arrived, yet. That meant ol’ Deke figured Fleming’s exposure as a fraud was a foregone conclusion.
“Well?” asked Ernie, as Fleming flipped through the report. Chad’s brow furrowed.
“It says I’m not one-sixteenth Cherokee.”
“Eh, it was a long shot.”
“It says I’m one-quarter Karankawa.”
“What the gently caress is a Karankawa?”
They looked it up on Fleming’s iPhone. The first image was a diorama from the Brazoria County Museum, depicting a man with waist-length braids, tattoos from his bellybutton to his forehead, and stalks of sugarcane piercing his lip and nipples. His wife and child both looked like they had Downs.
“Cannibals? They were cannibals?” Despite the gale-force air conditioning, Fleming’s polo shirt was soaked through.
“It says they’re extinct, though. How can you be a quarter Karankawa if they’re extinct?”
“How can I be a quarter anything? Grandma Mabel looked nothing like that—she can’t have been full-blooded!”
“What’s the alternative?”
They found out the alternative—and the reason why Hunnicut wasn’t in any hurry to claim his copy of the results—later that evening. The man was no fool; he’d paid Fleming’s chemically-addled bitch of a sister to take a DNA test before sending his oppo stooge to rattle Chad’s cage. For an extra five grand, she’d produced one of their father’s old sweaters, from which the lab techs tweezed several gray hairs and conclusively proved that (A) Janet was his offspring, and (B) neither of them had a drop of Indian blood.
Janet filed suit against Chad the next day, alleging that their—her—father’s will was invalid, on the grounds that he was the victim of their mother’s fraudulent misrepresentation of Chad’s parentage. Despite his lawyer’s best efforts, the court ordered his assets frozen, pending the resolution of the case.
Melissa packed up the kids and left after the bank foreclosed on their home. Election season plowed on without ex-Councilman Fleming, who was too busy bagging groceries to campaign. He’d illegally taken up residence in a storage unit on the outskirts of town. Ernie dropped by on election day to let him know that his name hadn’t been struck from the ballot, and he’d won seven percent of the vote. Fleming stared at him for a full minute before curling up on his Army surplus cot to sob.
“Mr. Fleming,” said the man from the Southern Plains Regional Office of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, “I understand your frustration, but we simply can’t hand the entire Gulf Coast from Galveston to Corpus Christi over to you.”
They were standing at a busy off-ramp on I-10. Fleming was badly sunburned. His blond locks had grown just long enough to braid, and were sticking out from the sides of his head like antennae. He glowered at the man over the cardboard sign which read “AUTHENTIC INDIAN HANDICRAFTS”. Arranged on the curb before him was an assortment of popsicle-stick sculptures: a canoe, a teepee, a passable likeness of Iron Eyes Cody.
“And the coastal islands, Jerry. Don’t try to pull your sneaky white-man tricks on me. I know how you people think.”
“Even if the federal government owned that land—”
“Tribal lands. Stolen by the Europeans.”
“—We couldn’t just evacuate eight million people.”
“Forked tongue, Jerry. I wouldn’t make them leave.”
“So long as they paid me rent and acknowledged me as their chief.”
Bureau Jerry sighed.
“Have you spoken to the nice anthropologist lady recently?”
“Don’t patronize me, paleface.”
“There’s a man in San Antonio. An old guy. She seems pretty convinced that he’s at least part Karankawa. They’re having trouble getting him to do the DNA test, but… does the name ‘Eddie Gomez’ mean anything to you?”
“He was a landscaper.”
“Seems he lived in Cedar Grove.”
“Seems he did some work on your parents’ place.”
“About nine months before you were born.”
Fleming looked down at his wares.
“I suppose he’ll want to be chief.”
Bureau Jerry patted his shoulder.
“Maybe you could take turns.”
Chad Fleming looked up, tears threatening to spill down his red and peeling cheeks.
“Will I have to pierce my nipples?”
|# ? Jan 28, 2013 01:06|
Maybe try clicking your own avatar link instead of being a giant retard baby...
DON'T GASLIGHT ME YOU BURLY PIGDOG
Btw thanks (I think) to Neon
|# ? Jan 28, 2013 02:12|
1417 words including title.
Daddy Gave Me No Name
Ron’s parents had left him nothing. They had not even given him his name. The law decreeing anonymity for biological parents of wards of the state meant he didn’t inherit a surname, either. He found out later that Uncle Leonard had been the one to pick his name, which seemed appropriate.
Uncle Leonard was not actually anyone’s uncle.
Well, he wasn’t anyone at The Home’s uncle. He may have had some nieces and nephews on the outside. Ron never really thought of what lives people like Uncle Leonard might have had outside the context of The Home. To everyone inside The Home, he was just their Uncle Leonard.
Despite Leonard’s best intentions, one uncle divided between a few hundred wards of the state was not an ideal equation. If Ron’s parents can be said to have had given him anything of lasting importance, therefore, it was this. If Ron ever had any children, they would have everything he did not. He was going to be the dad his dad hasn’t. Every sport game, every school play, he’d be there.
Well, through primary school anyway. It’d take a lot to drag him to any high school productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
He’d met Sally a few years after he’d moved out of The Home. She, like him, had been a ward of the state and, like him, had not managed to get placed with a foster family. She worked at the café where he took most of his lunch breaks. One afternoon on his way home he’d seen her waiting for a bus which had been scheduled to arrive ten minutes previously. He’d asked her if she needed a lift, and upon hearing where she lived, told her that was on his way.
It was not on his way. It took him fifty minutes out of his way. Fifty minutes of his life he would neither ever get back, nor want back. He arranged to give her a lift home every afternoon. It was not until fully a month later, when they’d mutually decided that they were officially a couple, that she first saw where he lived.
“How long have you lived here?”
He’d shrugged. “About a year and a half I guess.”
“You said my place was on the way.”
“The first time you gave me a lift. You said that my place was on the way, that it wasn’t any trouble.”
“Oh right.” He’d shrugged again. “Second part was true. Would you have let me give you a lift if you’d known?”
“That’s not the point, you lied to me.” And then they’d exchanged a lot of other heated words and Sally had made him drive her home, and then had realised that him driving her home had been the principle upon which she was currently angry with him, and actually he couldn’t drive her home. She’d walked to the bus stop.
They’d stayed angry with each other for about as long as it took to walk to a bus stop, at which point she’d called him and asked him to pick her up.
He’d proposed at a bus stop. It was a challenge to find a pretext for being alone at a bus stop, but he’d managed to convince her to go on a moonlit stroll with him. He’d looked up the lunar cycles and everything and had found the evening when the moon looked the most romantic, and he’d scouted out a decent walking path that had a bus stop a decent distance from her place with a good view of the moon.
Of course, then the evening had been overcast and they hadn’t been able to see the moon at all. Undeterred he’d gone ahead with his proposal plan, down on one knee in the bus shelter under the pretence of needing to tie a shoelace. After she’d realised what he’d been doing she’d cried and hugged him and said “Yesyesyesyesyesyesyes!”
And then it had started raining and they’d sat huddled together in the bus shelter hoping there was a bus that came this way. There hadn’t been, and after half an hour they’d walked back to her place in the rain.
The wedding had been eight months ago. Ron had tried to find their parents through the administrators of their respective childhood homes, but due to the anonymity law had had no options but to leave his details at his childhood home and Sally’s details at hers and hope that, when contacted, their parents would decide they wanted to be at their kids’ wedding.
Turned out they hadn’t wanted to.
Now, however, they were trying for children. Well, one child. Both of them had experienced a childhood where they’d had to share their parent figures, such as they were, with a few hundred other children. Not their child. Their child would have their undivided attention, and fortunately Sally had agreed that she would take one for the team and go to any high school productions of Shakespeare plays that might need watching, since she had no particular interest in attending any sport that their child might play. She hadn’t gotten pregnant yet, which meant Ron still had time to find their parents. Their parents might not have wanted to attend their children’s wedding, but when it came to grandparent duties, Ron didn’t intend to leave the choice up to them.
Sure, going through their childhood homes had proved fruitless, but a colleague had suggested an alternate route. A website that specialised in tracking down biological parents; for a nominal fee of course. During his lunch hour, Ron had separately input his own details, and then those of his wife, followed by his credit card details. And then waited.
Two weeks had passed during which Ron decided that his money was gone, and he’d been naďve to entrust his money to a company of dubious legal standing who specialised in violating anonymity laws.
On this morning, however, Ron logged in to find two Emails waiting for him; one bearing his name in the subject heading, one bearing the name of his wife. Excitedly, he opened up both. He looked at his own first, and scrolled down to the ‘parents’ section. Only one name. Single mother, right, made sense. He opened up the Email bearing his wife’s name. Again, single mother. Made sense why they’d both choose to give their children up for adoption, then. He read the name and then opened up the first Email again. He read the name on that one and frowned. They must’ve accidentally copied the details from one to the other. He opened them both alongside each other and scanned both Emails.
They read almost the same. No, wait, the dates were different. The Emails were not mistakes; the rest of his life had been.
He couldn’t concentrate on his work, so he’d excused himself early and driven home. How would he explain this? Obviously they couldn’t continue to try for a child. Or remain married, really. He opened the door still not entirely sure how he would tell Sally, and if he should tell her why. Which would be worse?
She was already home. Usually the café hours were longer, but this might be for the best. “Sally, listen, I’ve got something I need to tell you.”
“OK, but me first!”
Right. Sure. It would give him time to figure out how to say it. What to even say.
He nodded, and she continued. “So, you might be wondering why I’m already home from the café.” She didn’t wait for a response and barely paused at all. “I’ve kind of known about this for a few weeks now but I didn’t want to tell you until I was absolutely sure but I’ve just been to the doctor’s office and we’re going to be parents!”
What? He couldn’t say anything, and she didn’t pause anyway.
“We’ve done all kinds of ultrasounding and stuff and I told the doctor not to tell me whether it’s a boy or a girl, but he was able to tell me it’s perfectly healthy, and oh my God, isn’t this amazing? You’re going to be the most amazing dad!”
“Yeah.” And then he made his decision, an option that hadn’t even seemed like an option. “Yeah, we’re both gonna be awesome parents.”
“So what was the thing you needed to tell me?”
He shrugged. “I don’t remember. Probably wasn’t important.”
|# ? Jan 28, 2013 03:29|
DON'T GASLIGHT ME YOU BURLY PIGDOG
No, I'm not turning up the heat little by little. It's been set on 80 since it got cold in late November. Stop imagining things. We'll have to talk to Dr. Harrington tomorrow if you keep this up.
|# ? Jan 28, 2013 03:33|
Work Related Injury
Byron lived alone. He woke up at noon and swung his legs over the bed, which was a mattress stacked on a box spring. Coldness shot into his feet, his toes wriggled. He yawned exaggeratedly and placed a hand on the small of his back. Still a little sore, he thought, shouldn’t try to go back to work yet. Popping up from the bed he stretched upwards, sidewards and bent over and touched his toes.
In the kitchen of the studio, a coffee maker sat amongst used, disposable coffee cup cartridges. Byron opened the lid and took out the empty pod and put it on the counter. Without letting his hand go, he saw the clutter on the counter and threw the pod at the garbage can. It landed next to other empty pods at the foot of the can. Shoving a new coffee pod in, Byron started the machine and grabbed his keys.
As Byron moved to the front door his phone rang.
“Hello?” Byron said, slipping his foot into his slipper.
“Hi, this is Jesse Parcell, is Byron Wilson there?”
“Byron Wilson, I’m sorry you have the wrong number.”
“This isn’t the Byron Wilson who works at—“ the man said but Byron hung up on him. The phone rang again immediately but Byron left out the front door, letting it continue ringing.
He moved quickly down the first set of stairs, but slowed down and walked gingerly on the last section before the lobby. Looking around and seeing no one, his pace sped back up as he walked to the mailboxes. Dark brown-red streaks ran out from under the brass mailbox wall, directly underneath his box.
Byron paused, his key hovering by the keyhole, as he looked at the streaks. They were still wet, but hadn’t reached the floor yet. No other mailbox had been tampered with. He hoped that some kid hadn’t squirted a juicebox into the mail slot, possibly tampering with his unemployment check.
With a grimace, he fit the key in and turned. Stepping back to avoid the inevitable splash, Byron opened the box. A bomb exploded in Byron’s stomach, numbing everything. He wanted to open his mouth and vomit out electricity and his charred innards. Screaming would fix everything, his body told him.
Byron slammed the mailbox door closed. Looking around, no one around still, he opened the box again. Inside, a human heart sat on top of a sheet of coupons, credit card offers, and his unemployment check. Blood seeped from aortas, a glob pushed out every time it beat. When a minute passed, Byron realized he hadn’t breathed, and he sucked in air desperately.
“Looking for gold,” asked one of his elderly neighbors.
“No gold, haha!” Byron shouted slamming the box closed. His neighbor moved her head back and nodded her head, her eyes wide. Byron hunched his shoulders and stared at her as she walked slowly to the elevator, peering over her shoulder every few steps. When she finally got into the elevator, Byron opened the box and wrapped the still beating heart in the sheet of coupons.
Running full speed up the stairs, he could feel it pulse and shudder. Wetness seeped out from the folds of the coupons, coating his hands in slick, ruddy colored blood. He threw a shoulder against his front door but it wouldn’t budge. Fumbling with his pocket for his keys, he got blood all over his pants, keys and finally the door itself. With each short breath the heart beat in rhythm, as though the heart could sense his urgency.
As he got to his kitchen sink his hands failed, and they went limp, sending the heart tumbling. With a wet squish the heart rolled to the drain and blocked the hole in the sink. More blood flowed from the heart as it stuck in the drain.
Byron stood silent in front of his sink watching the heart. Blood dripped from his hands to the floor and he thought about the garbage disposal. The switch was next to the sink, pointing down towards the floor. He would only have to flick the switch and then give the heart a good push, and then he could just go to sleep, wait for the next day, forget this ever happened.
The heart quivered. His hand slowly moved to the switch. Before he turned the disposal on, his coffee maker beeped and the familiar sound of liquid pouring into his cup relaxed him. Byron washed his hands in the bathroom sink, scrubbing until the blood was mostly gone. Grabbing a sponge and his cup of coffee, he went back downstairs to the mailboxes.
The outside of unemployment check was ruined, but the insides were still fresh. Byron wiped up the mess at the mailbox without incident and started work on the front of his door. He didn’t hear the sounds of footsteps over the scouring side of the sponge.
“Peculiar place to clean,” said a voice.
Byron jumped, and turned. In front of him was a man with a long coat and sunglasses. The man was wearing a white button down and simple slacks, but black comfort boots underneath.
“Can I help you?”
“I’d like to ask you a few questions, uh, are you Mr. Byron Wilson?”
“So you’re not Byron Wilson? Why are you cleaning his door then?”
Byron stood, they were the same average height, but this man’s shoulders were significantly broader than his own.
“Do you live here?” the man asked.
“Yeah, I don’t think I’m going to answer your questions,” Byron said opening the door. The man looked at the sponge in Byron’s hand, stained red, and at Byron’s pocket. The man’s eyebrows scrunched together.
“What’s that on your hands?”
“Have a nice day!” Byron said opening his apartment door and stepping through. As he slammed it closed, the man pushed against the door.
“Hey, gently caress off,” Byron said. The man pushed against the door, but Byron caught it, holding it firmly.
“Awful strong for a man with a bad back injury,” the man said. Byron paused.
“A man with your kind of injury sure moves well,” the man continued.
“Who the hell are you?”
“My name is Investigator Parcell,” the man said.
“Let me see your badge,” Byron said incredulously. Parcell grumbled and pulled out a leather flip wallet. “A private investigator? Oh gently caress off,” Byron said reading the license.
Trying to slam the door again, Parcell kept his foot in the door and his shoulder braced.
“Hey, I said gently caress off before I call the cops.”
“No way buddy, your employers are gonna enjoy what I have to say to them, unless,” Parcell started. Byron grit his teeth, but he didn’t push the door closed.
“That’s what I thought,” Parcell said. “Hey, what the gently caress is that.”
Byron turned around. On the floor the heart rolled, coming to a halt with a small flop. Parcell and Byron froze. Byron turned back and locked eyes with the investigator. Throwing all his weight against the door, Byron tried to push Parcell out into the hall.
“Jesus loving Christ,” Parcell shouted, holding steady against Byron. “You sick gently caress!” Parcell wedged his arm into the door, yelping every time Byron tried to slam it closed. Parcell inched through before finally getting his legs behind him, throwing the door back.
Byron lost his balance, slipping on wet blood, and fell backwards. Landing on his tailbone, fire shot through his lower back. His back spasmed and his muscles tightened around his lower discs.
“Holy poo poo, holy poo poo!” Parcell kept shouting. In his hands he had a taser and mace, pointing them at the heart and at Byron. Byron tried to reach out to him but his back started going completely numb.
“Ack,” Byron said, fighting for air. Pain shot through his entire body, leaving him stranded like a turtle.
Parcell pulled out his cell phone and pressed it firmly against his ear. “Yes! Yes there’s an emergency, there’s been a murder!”
The rest of Parcell’s shouting faded out as static clouded Byron’s hearing. His head arched back, eyes glazing over. In front of him, upside down, the heart sat on the floor. It beat slow and steady, glistening with fresh blood. Sitting there, helpless on the ground, it slowly leaked blood onto the floor.
|# ? Jan 28, 2013 04:05|
PROMPT: I want stories of someone who tells the truth or doesn't tell the truth and gets What They Deserve.
Show Hand (1,170 words)
The dinner party was going well - the meal was perfect and the company excellent. Jack and Lori complimented Abbie on her cooking, and she beamed with pride, knowing she finally got my mother’s roast chicken recipe right. We shared little congratulations privately in the kitchen, and I joined our guests in the living room, lounging around watching commercials.
“How’s it like, now you are a Mrs?” I asked Lori.
“Never felt more perfect,” she gave a radiant smile, and showed off her ring. Jack smiled without changing his gaze at the television.
Abbie came in with a case in her hands. “We should play truth poker!” she announced.
“Nobody likes that game, it’s horrible!” I protested with a laugh.
“What is it?” Lori asked. Jack shifted in his seat and sat up.
“You know how in poker we bluff all the time?” Abbie said. Before I could protest, she already had the case open and was laying cards and chips for four on the coffee table. “It builds another level on that. Every time you do a raise or call or all in, you need to tell the other players something.”
“And?” Jack asked.
“If you’re bluffing, you have to tell a lie. And if you aren’t, you have to tell the truth. The other players have to guess whether you are lying or not.”
“If we are going to play this, I propose we do it very drunk.” I went to the bar and got us a pinor noit and glasses. As I poured wine Lori was bugging Abbie for hints and tips. Jack grunted and took his drink. “If the wives like it, the men should go with it. Right, Alec?” We toasted to each other.
“Let’s do a trial run,” Abbie proposed. She turned off the television, took out ten cards from the pile and gave Jack five. “Assume we are the last players left and you have raised the pot.”
“Right.” I glanced at Jack’s cards. He had a couple of twos. An alright hand.
“I’m going all in,” Abbie said with a stoic expression. “And Eskimos keep their food in refrigerators to keep them from freezing.”
“You’re bluffing and I’ll meet you,” he said. “Show hand?”
Abbie’s cards had three kings. “That’s the truth,” she said with a smile. “Money’s all mine.”
Jack snorted. “This game is horribly complicated.”
Lori laughed. “This game is delightful!”
We played for some time, and the ladies were clearly enjoying it. I tried to bluff my way with debunked myths (“Bats use sonar because they are blind in the dark.”), but Abbie and Lori obviously had been trivial pursuit champions, and saw through them immediately. They in turn use that knowledge against Jack and me, with predictable results of us failing to identify anything correctly.
As the wine flowed through our bellies, the statements started shifting from worldly facts and myths to personal tales and half-truths. There were revelations about distant families and gossips about friends made. Abbie revealed that she had a distant cousin in Louisiana living as a bum, and Jack told us about an ex-colleague wanted for murder. Thankfully, some horrifying ones, such as a grandfather who fought for the Nazis, turned out to be false.
Ultimately, the game was obviously designed for Lori. She spouted every single obscure fact and every convincing lie with gusto, taking to our chips like a bank robber. A last statement of wanting to name her future daughter after her great-grandaunt Serafina (neither of which was true) took both Abbie and me out of the game. The table was set for only the McDowells. Jack was at his last legs with only a few chips left. We had finished two bottles of wine and were finishing a third, and all of us were slightly tipsy.
It was the last hand. Lori burned a card and took one from the pile, then smiled. “All in,” she said.
“And?” Jack asked.
She thought for a bit.
“I love my husband,” she said, and flicked her hair over her shoulder.
“That’s cheating,” I told her. She rolled her eyes and shrugged.
Jack looked at his cards, then at her, at us, at her cards, and at her again.
“Time to fold, sweetie,” Lori said.
Jack asked, “if I fold, will you let me see your cards?”
“The game doesn’t work that way, Jack!” Abbie said with a small laugh, then stopped. Jack looked completely serious, his eyes staring at the hands of his wife, holding her cards. Beads of cold sweat streaked down his face in an air-conditioned room. We had turned on only a few lamps and lit candles for atmosphere, and in that dim light of the evening, the shadows cast upon his face gave him the mask of a man who would do anything it took to get what he wanted.
The cards in Lori’s hands were still face down. During the whole game, she had opted to just place a couple of dainty fingers on them. Now the cards were completely covered with her palms crossed.
“I want to know your cards, Lori. You can float the rules for your husband, right?” Jack asked. His voice was a complete monotone.
Lori’s earlier joviality was completely gone. Whether it was genuine or a façade prepared for us, we could never tell. Her hands did not move.
Show him your hand, I wanted to say. How hard could it be? Why aren’t you showing him?
What aren’t you telling him?
“Jack…” Lori started.
“Show me the goddamned cards!” Jack yelled and slammed his fists on the table. We jumped back, our cards bounced and a glass of wine spilled across the table. As the scented candle rebalanced itself the light danced wildly, but we could not see Jack’s face at all.
We sat for what felt like hours. Red wine fell, one drop at a time, onto the floor. In the commotion I noticed Lori, almost by instinct, pulling the cards to her chest.
Without a word, Jack stood up. He took his coat and keys, and when he exited our house he closed the door with a soft click. We remained seated, listening to the familiar engine hum of his car starting and driving away.
Lori still had the cards in her hands. There were tears in her eyes.
Abbie shot me a look, and I went upstairs. They stayed in the living room the whole night. All I was told, later, was Lori being put into a cab.
I spent the next morning cleaning up, washing the dishes and wiping off the winestain on the floor. As I collected the cards I noticed a pair, face down, lying side by side at where Lori sat. One was completely parallel to the table, but the other was skewed to a side, as if looking away from the other.
I took and added the cards facedown to the pile in the case, leaving them aside to their fates.
|# ? Jan 28, 2013 04:12|
Noted: there's an historically documented dispute over the spelling in this man's case. Before you correct it, use ur internets. But of course, I kannot speel either. DUMBASS PEOPLE THAT SPELL poo poo WRITE.
^ The spelling of Alferd/Alfred Packer's name has been the source of much confusion over the years. Official documents give his name as Alfred Packer, although he may (according to one story) have adopted the name Alferd after it was wrongly tattooed on to one of his arms. Packer sometimes signed his name as "Alferd", sometimes as "Alfred", and is referred to by both names. In many documents, he is referred to simply as A. Packer or Al Packer.
twinkle cave fucked around with this message at 04:36 on Jan 28, 2013
|# ? Jan 28, 2013 04:27|
Finders Keepers 1397 words
There was a firm knock on the front door, and when Thomas went to open it he saw the bulbous eyes of Vic “Frogface” Warner staring back at him.
“Hey you wanna hang out? A car crashed out in the creek and it looks way awesome.”
The scent of cheese long gone bad wafted through the screen door that separated the two boys; Thomas felt his nose wrinkle.
“I dunno, it's gonna rain soon. I got homework to do...” Thomas shuffled on his feet.
Frogface rolled his eyes, going so far as to stomp his ten-year old foot on the ground, “Come on! It's Saturday, you can do that crap later! You don't gotta be scared either, I know karate so if that homeless guy comes around we'll be fine.”
Thomas relented and followed Frogface out onto the sidewalk.
Frogface was halfway down the road by the time Thomas shut the door. Thomas shoved his hands in his pockets after catching up, “You don't know karate, Vic. You're just making stuff up again.”
The wind picked up, he'd have to convince Frogface that it was some pretty big homework if he wanted to get back before it started pouring; the sky had been overcast and had been dispensing with drizzles much of the day.
“You gotta see it, dude, you just gotta,” Frogface was adamant, repeating the mantra as they walked away from the cul-de-sac and out across the street. Thomas watched as the pudgy kid jumped over the guard rail and skidded down the heavily vegetated hillside. A thin path of dirt led between clumps of tall grass and the overgrown blackberry bushes; Thomas took that path instead.
It took only a minute to catch up with Frogface, he had bramble scratches all over his arms but his lips were stretched into a wide smile. “You ever seen a crashed car before? It's so cool, it's got busted tires and windows. This one had a bunch of suit cases in it. I was saving opening 'em for when someone came with me.”
Thomas shoved his hands back in his pockets and followed Frogface through the dry creek bed. None of the overgrowth had been disturbed as far as Thomas could see. The foliage was thick on the hills that lined the creekside, save for the few spots where people had worn trails through the bushes. “I don't think there is a car down here Vic,” Thomas said, “you're making it up again. I want to get home before it rains, are we almost there? I got homework.”
“Nope. I swear! I found it this morning, the windows are all bashed in.” Vic puffed up his cheeks, “Come on, just follow me, it's like a minute away probably.” He waddled forward and Thomas once more forced himself to keep up.
“If a car crashed down here, how come there aren't any cops or ambulances? I didn't hear any sirens,” Thomas asked as he took a look up at the sky; ugly gray streaks had begun to appear more frequently amongst the clouds.
“Oh, cause... it's a really old crash. Like, from the eighties or something. Check it out."
Frogface pointed as the car came into view. A thin layer of green had settled over the dirty white paint splotches that hadn't been overtaken by rust. All the windows had been smashed in save for front passenger side. Thomas heard the crunch of broken glass under his shoes as he got a little closer. The whole car was filled with garbage.
Frogface picked up a fist sized rock and casually tossed it to Thomas, "Here. See? Check it out, I smashed the windshield this morning. It was pretty solid, but I play a lot of baseball so I'm good at throwing. I saved a window for you."
Thomas gave the rock a pretty hard chuck and brought his hands up over his face as the window smashed inward, covering the mossy seats with glass shards. The boy felt pretty good about it; Thomas had never gotten a chance to smash something like that before without being grounded. Frogface kicked the car before moving towards the trunk.
"Gimme a sec, I closed it pretty good before I left."
After a minute of shoving a stick where the lock used to be on the back, Frogface jumped back a step as the trunk door swung open. A battered looking suitcase was sitting on top of chewed up jumper cables. Frogface pulled it out, "Man, I have been dying to open this up. I wanted it to save it for you, 'cause you're the only kid who still hangs out with me. Gimme a rock."
Thomas gave him a big one.
Thomas held the suitcase still with the rusted lock facing upward and tried to keep the I-told-you-so out of his voice, "If you didn't keep fibbing all the time, you'd have more friends. This is pretty cool though."
Frogface smashed the lock and briefcase popped open. Yellowed papers spilled out onto the creek bed; much of the paper had melted together. The suitcase didn't look particularly water tight, and creek water got nearly four feet high sometimes. A sharp clink echoed through the creek as a silver coin fell out of the case and hit a rock.
Thomas picked it up, "Hey! Check this out, a silver dollar!"
Frogface looked over at it. "How much do you think it's worth?"
"I just said, a dollar! Wow, my dad showed me one of these. They don't make them anymore. This is really cool."
Frogface dropped down to busy himself in the suitcase, tossing the illegible paper cakes to the side as he looked for more, "Aww, that was the only one. Oh well, finders keepers."
He put the papers back in the suitcase and shut the trunk.
"Lets go back now, I think I heard thunder.”
Going back took longer than getting there. The hills were steep and a light drizzle had turned the dirt paths into mudslides. Thomas managed to make it up the side without getting too muddy; Frogface had a heavy mud stain on his legs by the time they climbed over the guard rail. Thomas held the silver dollar in his hand, staring down at it with awe.
"That was pretty cool, Vic. Thanks for taking me." Thomas was pleased with his prize. He buffed it against his shirt before holding it up to the light.
"Yeah, it was cool. Let's go check it out when the rain stops, maybe we can break a door off or something, that would be really cool. Anyway, good luck with your homework. Is it math? You got Mrs. Sanders right? She always gives a ton of math homework."
Thomas kept looking up at his coin, "What? Oh, uh. No, I don't have any homework, I just didn't want to leave the house."
The coin was the coolest thing he'd ever found in the creek, mostly because he could spend it later. He was so enthralled that it took a moment for him to register that Frogface had knocked it out of his hand and into the street. Thomas ran after it but Frogface had beat him to it and shoved it into his pocket.
Frogface fixed Thomas with a bug-eyed glare, "If you didn't want to hang out, you should have just said so. Don't lie to me, I thought you liked hanging out with me."
Thomas reached for Frogface's pocket, "Gimme it back, finders keepers, Frogface!" Thomas hadn't meant to call Frogface that to his pudgy face, but didn't apologize either. It earned him another shove. Before Thomas could retaliate, Frogface ran down the street and into his house. Taking a deep breath, Thomas followed him and knocked on the door.
The heavyset Mrs. Warner opened it and stared at Thomas through the screen door. Behind her stood Frogface, his bulbous eyes streaked with filthy tears and his oversized mouth turned into a pout.
"Mrs. Warner," Thomas began, "Vic stole my-"
She cut him off, "I heard what you said and Vic told me what you did. He ain't got no apologies to give to no fibber. Now get outta here before you get into some real trouble!" Thomas bolted from the door as she yelled at him. From behind he heard Frogface call at him, "Finders keepers, fibber!"
|# ? Jan 28, 2013 04:43|
Before you correct it, use ur internets.
Hey, whatevs. Man don't want to use the most-common spelling, man don't got to use the most-common spelling. Read any Shaksper plays, lately? How do you think things in Libya have been shaping up since the death of Qadhdhafi?
|# ? Jan 28, 2013 04:47|
At least his first name wasn't Fudge
|# ? Jan 28, 2013 04:55|
Dao of the range
They found Josh leaning against a rock at the bottom of a gulch, one boot propped up on a tortoise. Both appeared equally resigned to their situation. The posse approached cautiously, an unspoken agreement meaning that no one went and fired off their gun or hollered like a drat fool, every man creeping respectfully closer. No one wanted to disturb him unduly, after all. There was a bit of an awkward shuffle because of that since no one wanted to speak first, but the
Angus was the one who finally cleared his throat and approached the supine outlaw.
“We've come for you, Josh,” he said, somewhat abashedly. “What with you comittin' the murders and all, well, we've been sent here to bring you in."
Josh tipped his hat and looked at Angus like he was seeing him for the first time.
“Izzat so?” he said.
Angus and the rest all went silent again, waiting to see if he was going to say anything else. When it was apparent that Josh felt he'd produced sufficient verbage for the day, Angus uncoiled the rope around his waist and stepped forward to bind his hands.
* * *
They took him into town as respectfully as they could, under the circumstances and all. He was still walking behind a horse, tied to the saddle as the law and custom demanded they return a murderer, but it was a slow horse, and a long rope, and they had him up front instead of kicking through the dust in back.
He approached the scaffold as he approached everything else in life; calmly, neither resigned to his fate nor anticipating it. It stood tall and proud in the town square, clean cut and well joined. The crowds gathered around to watch were mostly silent, jostling a little, but there were a few catcalls, a few harsh words.
“Bout time you followed them to the grave, you fucker!” someone yelled, someone else hushing them almost immediately.
Josh just looked out at the crowd. “Izzat so?” he said calmly, and pushed a spurt of tobacco juice between his teeth.
* * *
Preacher Beth was on hand to give the last rites.
“Brother,” she intoned, “for even though you've committed grievous crimes against us, still we will call you brother. You have strayed, and we have brought you back, and although we punish your body now it is in hopes that your soul will be shrived and sent to a place where a higher power than any of us can possibly comprehend can judge you.” She paused for a moment, laid her hand tenderly on Josh's brow. “The door beneath your feet will soon open and send you to a better world. Think on this and be calm.”
Josh squinted against the glare of the sun. The noose itched around his neck, perfectly measured and tight. A bird wheeled in the distance. Two hundred odd souls watched in perfect stillness.
“Izzat so?” he whispered.
The snap of the rope echoed for longer than it should have.
|# ? Jan 28, 2013 05:02|
Sooner or later I'm going to learn to stop writing in the first person. I decided to go outside of my comfort zone here--I attempted to write in present tense and to write something that isn't based around some kind of horror--so go hard on this one, folks. Knock me to the ground and hit me while I'm down.
Beautiful Morning - 1,357 words
Ah, it’s a beautiful morning. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and the neighbor’s car is on fire. It’s an interesting feeling, watching something so beautiful burn. I mean, I hate the car—I’ve always hated it—but I can’t deny that it’s beautiful. The fire makes the red color shine brighter, too. I mean, I know the fire is dangerous. Don’t cars explode when they catch fire? Or is that only in the movies? I don’t know, but I hope he wakes up quick, before it spreads.
I suppose I should call the fire department. It’s not like anyone else will. I’m sure they’re sitting in their warm, comfortable homes, watching the car burn (did I mention it’s a spectacle? Because seriously, it is), figuring one of the other neighbors will call. With reluctance, I reach into my pocket and pull out my phone. I consider, for a moment, recording a video of the fire. Hmmm… nah. The video wouldn’t do it justice. It wouldn’t capture the little details.
I dial 9-1-1, take a deep breath, and wait for the operator.
A woman’s voice breaks the dial tone. “9-1-1, what’s your emergency?”
“Mmm… yeah,” I say, “I need to report a fire. 104 Franklin Ave. It’s my neighbor’s car.”
“Is there anyone inside or around the vehicle?”
“No, ma’am.” I glance at some of the neighbors’ windows. If anyone’s watching, they’re not showing themselves.
“Okay, sir, we have the fire department en route.” Excellent. It should take them some time. I’ll get to enjoy the fire a little longer. I’m hoping he steps outside before they get here. I would love to see his face when he spots it, or at least his reaction once he steps outside—probably still in his PJs—and sees his car, his precious Ford, engulfed in flames.
I snap back to reality. “I’m sorry? Yes?”
“Your name, sir.”
“Oh. Sorry. Shaw, Steven Shaw.”
“That’s Shaw, S-H-A-W?”
“Yes ma’am. Listen, I should go. Someone should notify him.”
“Oh, my neighbor of course. He doesn’t know what’s happened. Thank you.”
She continues on, but I hang up.
My timing is perfect. His door is opening. There he is, in his stupid bathrobe, and, Christ, even in the morning his hair has that combed, sculpted look to it. When they started using the term chiseled to describe handsomeness, it was probably because of people like my neighbor. Bastard.
His expression is a contorted, unreadable mess. I see anguish, sure, but there’s that glint of hope yet, the hope that what he’s seeing isn’t real and that he’ll wake up soon. I wonder: was that the same face I made when I saw him with my wife, through the bedroom window? When I came home, went upstairs, looked across the way and there they were, loving like the world was ending?
I imagine it was similar. I can’t be sure. My face isn’t quite as chiseled as his. His is a little less hairy, too. I mean, it’s not like I had a mirror, either.
Something catches his attention. He blinks, turns, and stares at me, standing a few feet from his burning car. I try to resist the urge to grin and wave, but it’s a lost cause.
“Don’t worry, neighbor—I called the police for you.”
Ah, there it is, the realization. His confusion and anguish is turning to clarity and rage. That’s good, you lying sack of poo poo, get mad. All those years, behind my back, after I trusted you. This is it. This is my vengeance.
I see my wife, then. She steps outside just as the sirens are heard in the distance. She raises a hand, she touches him. She stares at the spectacle—she always liked playing with fire, so I imagine she can’t help but admire the flames a little—before she glances up at his eyes and follows their gaze.
The rage is instant. “You,” she says, and the fire in her eyes isn’t just a reflection.
I shrug my shoulders. “Me.”
“What. The gently caress, Steve?”
“Ah! Hold on, where have I heard this before—didn’t we already have this conversation, in reverse?”
“Jesus loving Christ! Don’t tell me you did this. Don’t tell me you lit Frank’s car on fire.”
“Oh wow! The exact same words! This is incredible! Well, I mean, replace ‘lit’ with ‘hosed’, ‘car’ with ‘dick’, er… nothing really replaces ‘fire’…”
“You lunatic!” There are tears forming in her eyes. Well, gently caress. Even now, it still stings a little to see my wife cry.
“Look, you can’t say this wasn’t coming,” I say.
At this point, something in Frank seems to snap. In a flash, he is over his porch railing, on the sidewalk, and barreling toward me. I take a moment to admire the rage in his eyes before I realize that I should probably move. Unfortunately, that moment wasn’t long enough to give me ample time to do so, and before I know it I am spiraling onto the street. My head connects with the road, and my vision blurs. Something begins pounding my face.
Somehow, despite this, my contentment does not subside.
Someone pulls him away. I feel someone else lift me to my feet as I try to rub my eyes. Through the fuzz, I can make out my wife, still on Frank’s porch, on her knees. I can see Frank—one of the firemen is restraining him—and I assume one of them is lifting me up as well. Then, reality fades away.
Sometime after I come to, I am told I must give a statement. The police sit me down in a nice, well-lit room (in the movies, I always remembered scenes like this taking place in a dark room with a long table; do the movies do anything right?) and ask me to explain what happened.
“Well, uh, my neighbor punched me, if you can’t tell. Quite a few times, actually.”
“Do you know why he did that?”
“Well, probably because I lit his car on fire.”
I explain the rest of the story. I see no point in lying; I know I’m going to do time, but maybe if my actions are justified I can get a little bit of a break. I don’t know if that’s how the law works, but it’s worth a shot.
Later, in court, I am not surprised to hear that Frank and my wife both lied in their reports. They tried to tell the court—I poo poo you not—that they hadn’t started seeing each other until after the divorce. Bullshit; I saw them plenty of times, even before the divorce.
Granted, I didn’t have the balls to confront them until sometime after (the screaming that took place in Frank’s house probably would’ve gotten the police called had the neighbors ever given enough of a poo poo to call them). I wanted to confront them sooner, before we split up, but she never gave me the chance, really. I remember asking if Frank had anything to do with her decision, but she claimed it was because of my “clingy paranoia.” Sure.
I try to explain this to the court, but the judge and jury are not impressed. I am given five years in prison and a $5,000 fine to boot.
Thanks to his insurance, Frank will probably get a shiny new car and he’ll get to keep my wife. They’ll probably move away and cut all ties well before I get out of prison.
That’s for the better, I think. I can’t imagine what I might do if I had to set eyes on that new car of his every morning, with the knowledge that he was still asleep, in his bed, next to her. I might do something drastic.
As I am taken away from the court, I am filled with one regret: that I did not take even a single photo of the fire, so that I could relive my moment of triumph once I got out of prison. Even so, I’ll always have that morning.
That beautiful morning.
|# ? Jan 28, 2013 05:12|
Empty Glass- 880 words.
"Sure, it's not really a 'for white people' thing, but it is a well-respected Buddhist retreat, and just by visiting I felt way more, you know, enlightened. I could see the universe in myself and myself in the universe, you know what I mean," said Corey, between mouthfuls of popcorn.
"You mean, like, you could see everything all together," said John.
"I mean that I could see that I was God, basically. Like I'm not actually God in that there's no God but if there was a God then I'm that God. You know. The Buddhist God." Corey put the bowl of popcorn down on the kitchen table, and began sloppily pouring vodka and orange juice into a glass.
John put his glass to his lips before taking it off again. "You know, I don't really think that's how Buddhism works."
"poo poo," said Corey, sweeping vodka off his red sweater sleeve. "What? I mean, like, maybe it's not how it's conceived of as working, but it could work like that if you interpreted it right, like the right way."
"I mean, maybe you could probably interpret it that way," said John, gulping the rest of his drink down. It was two in the morning, he noticed, and his roommate had yet to shut up. It was going to be one of those nights.
"It's just that, you know," Corey said, topping off his orange juice with yet more vodka, "it's a revelation. That you could be god. Or that you could be anything. If you just realize it. You just have to know it." His grip tightened on the glass, which slammed against the table.
John hoisted himself from the couch with a grunt, leaving his drink on the table. "I'm going to bed, Corey. You can stay up and be god, but be a quiet, merciful god."
"Wait, you can't go to bed!"
"The lease says I can do anything but paint the walls, Corey."
"But. There's -- Hold on, what if I say something really important and I don't have anyone to hear it?"
John leaned his hand on the white door frame, "Then write it down. Make a Bible."
"Gods don't write bibles, John! Prophets do," Corey said, putting his hands down on the table.
John looked down at his belly, inhaled, and exhaled. He looked at the empty glasses on the coffee table, the popcorn on the floor, and the crumbling cabinets behind Corey. Another breath before he processed what Corey was doing. Corey was, of course he was, sitting in full lotus on top of the kitchen table, next to his drink.
"Just think of me as a conduit from the universe. The next thing I say could change your life forever."
"There's nothing you could say that could -"
"I took triple my dose of seroquel today."
John stopped. What was that again? Was that a bad thing? Then he remembered. Right. The important thing is that he was talking to a loving crazy person.
"I don't believe you."
"Okay, look, I know I'm being really goofy, but -- but you know I'm like that when I'm manic."
"You also lie all the time when you're manic. So why not just believe that that's what's going on? And why all this," he struggled for a word, "bullshit?"
Crawling forward onto the table, Corey said, "It's just, it's just an idea taken too far. I know I'm not, like," he stumbled off of the side of the table, where he hit his head on the floor, clutched his head, and rolled over to continue, "but you know it doesn't have to be like the end of the world to make sure I don't, like, throw up everywhere or have night terrors or whatever because I'm pretty sure it was like too much, like way too much, like too too much."
"Don't be so dramatic," John said, shutting the door. He rustled through the piles of clothes on the floor to find his pajamas. He turned off the light and stood there for a few minutes. He finally opened the door again to find John on the sofa, staring at the door.
"Oh, thanks John, just make sure I'm okay. Do you know what happens if I overdose?"
"Yeah," he lied.
"Okay," said Corey, yawning and pulling his arms towards his chest. As soon as John felt like he could move him without him waking up, he put him down on his bed, tucked the fucker in, turned the lights off, and went to his own room.
He descended into a blissful sleep, and woke up the next morning to the frost outside his window. The air was colder that day -- cold enough to numb his toes even very quickly after getting out of bed, cold enough that he put on a jacket before he opened the door to his room. Outside the window it was violently bright. As he walked out the front door and down the stairs to his car, he saw the snow was still as plentiful as ever, but it was playing with the sun's rays, teasing out beams of light that illuminated the trees from all sides. As he crunched down the stairs, he noticed Corey's car still iced over in the parking lot, and ran back up into the stillness of the apartment.
|# ? Jan 28, 2013 05:13|
At least his first name wasn't Fudge
More's the pity, I say. We need more interesting names to ring down the halls of posterity. Tokyo Sexwhale, for instance.
|# ? Jan 28, 2013 05:16|
Snitches get Stitches (1152 words)
The subdued lighting of Rossi’s seemed almost fluorescent now, compared to the damp gloom outside the windows. The green overhead lamps cast a gaslight glow on rough oak tables and cracked leather benches. Normally you couldn’t see either during the massive post work crowd. Now between the weather and the late hour only a few men still sat at the bar.
One of them, Jacob Langley, had a double of whiskey and half of a bowl of potato-cheddar soup in front him. It had been cooling there for almost a half hour now.
“Shouldn’t you be getting home to your wife?” the bartender had asked when it was ordered. Jacob’s eyes narrowed and his lip curled down into a grimace.
“I get enough heckling at home, I don’t need my bartender nagging me too. Just get me some drat soup.”
Now Jacob could barely stomach the stuff. Not because of the layer of slowly congealing grease and starch floating on top, although that wasn’t helping. He felt nauseous. His hands shook when he went to light a cigarette. He took a sip of whiskey to try and calm his nerves but all he could think of was the fact that now his marriage was well and hosed.
He had done a lot of things that would’ve destroyed his marriage if Margot had ever found out and some things that should have destroyed it when she did. But they had always managed to ride things out. Through it all they had shared an unspoken rule. As long as Margot knew where Jacob was around dinner time they could work through anything.
The scrape of the door against the uneven floor made everyone at the bar turn their heads. A man with a thin mustache and a pinstriped suit was standing in the doorframe. The distant echo of sirens and cars rushing on wet streets followed him. A soft rumble of thunder cut short by the door closing.
In five strides the mustached man was at the bar, taking a seat on Jacob’s left. He flashed a quick smile at Jacob, granting a view of yellow and gold mixed together, before turning to get the bartender’s attention.
Jacob took a moment to size the guy up. Dirt on his patent leather shoes, cuts on his knuckles, and a gold chain attached to something in his vest. He looked about as old as Jacob was, maybe a little younger.
Jacob was about to turn back to his soup when he caught a glimpse of his wife trying to peer in through the darkened windows. He almost knocked his drink over trying to stand up.
“Ah poo poo, my wife’s here. Hey buddy could you do me a favor and if that lady comes in here looking for a “Jacob” could you tell her you’ve been in here all night and haven’t seen me?”
Jacob didn’t stick around to hear the reply, he was already down the hall and in the single bathroom at the back of the bar. He locked the door, sat down on the toilet, and lit another cigarette. He held his breath and tried to listen for the shrill pitch of his wife’s voice but he the only thing he could hear was the blood pumping in his ears.
He hadn’t even finished his cigarette when there were a couple of quick raps at the door and the muffled voice of the mustached man. “Hey pal, your old lady bought the story. You can stop hiding now.”
Jacob returned to his seat and took a sip of whiskey.
“Hey, thanks a bunch for covering for me man. Here, let me buy you a drink.”
“Don’t worry about it man.”
“Well, at least allow me to introduce myself. I’m Jacob Langley. Here’s my card. I work at one of the banks downtown, so if you ever need any financial help or stuff, look me up. It’s the least I can do for you after helping me out.”
“Pleasure to meet you Jacob. I’m Lionel Hurtz, although my friends call me Scratch. Don’t worry about the cover story, I know all about having hide things from my old lady. Although.. can I ask you a favor in return? Don’t worry, it’s nothing too big, but if anyone comes in here looking for me, can you tell them I’ve been here all night?”
A prolonged silence descended over the pair as each stared into the bottom of their drinks. It was only broken by the unmistakable sound of wood on wood. They both turned to face the door. Three men entered the bar, two in blue uniforms and standing in front of them, a man in a practical looking suit. After taking a couple of seconds to scan the bar the man in the suit came over to where the pair were sitting.
Lionel put on a big, poo poo eating grin. “Evening detective, something I can help you with.”
The detective ignored him and turned to Jacob while opening a notebook. “Hello sir. My name is Detective Malone and I was wondering if I could ask you a couple of questions.”
“Do you know this man you are sitting with.”
“Uh... well I know his name is Lionel Hurtz. I just met him this evening.”
“I see. Were you also aware that Mr. Hurtz is currently the prime suspect in a double murder that occurred this evening.”
Lionel turned his head and caught Jacob’s eye, narrowed his lids, then looked away.
“I didn’t. That’s a... that’s very interesting”
“Yes isn’t it, now then Mr...”
“Mr. Langley. Do you remember what time Mr. Hurtz entered this bar?”
Jacob’s arm pits were noticeably damp. He hadn’t felt this nervous since giving a speech his junior year of college.
“Well I don’t remember exactly...” there was a brief pause. Jacob could feel the whole world holding it’s breath alongside him. “...but he’s been here pretty much all night with me. I got off work around 5pm.”
The detective frowned and scrawled something in his notebook.
“Very well. I’m still going to have to ask you to come down to the station with me anyway. Just to give an official statement. Also, if this does go to trial you may be asked to testify. Hurtz, you’re coming with us a too.”
“What? You heard the guy, I’ve been here all night.”
“Well, we’ll see about that. Come on boys it’s not a long drive.”
Six months later an obituary ran in the newspaper. It read
“Jacob Langley died last Tuesday of a gunshot wound to the head. Mr. Langley, divorced, is believed to have committed suicide, however investigators have yet to rule out the possibility of homicide. He is survived by his mother Laura, his ex-wife Margot, and their two children Matt and Denise. A service will be held at the Lane Mortuary this Saturday at 2pm.”
|# ? Jan 28, 2013 05:23|
Well, the Judge PM'd me and demanded that I post something in the dome, so here I am. What I ended up with was far longer than the 1500 word limit, closer to the 2500 mark. I edited it down some and got it to just under 1800 but I don't think I'll have time tonight to re-edit and drop it to 1500. I'm OK with how it ended up but its got some flaws. Oh well, my death in the dome was expected.
Arena - 1798 words.
The stone wall of the cell was uncomfortable as Rouald crouched against it. His clothing was torn and bloodied, rendered little better than rags by his days inside the cell. The other prisoners stood and talked amongst themselves but Rouald avoided them as best he could.
Moments ago he had said goodbye to his wife. It had cost far too much to bribe the guards for a chance to speak with her even briefly, but it had been worth it to see her one last time. He had convinced Olivia to sell their stock of exotic animals and leave. They had wept as they parted, but she would be safe at least. They had friends in the north who would take her in, and enough coin for her to live there comfortably for a long while.
Rouald knew his own fate. Death awaited him in the arena. There would be no chance of survival. Sending her away was for the best. He didn't want her to watch him die.
As he brooded a very thin prisoner walked over and sat down next to him against the wall.
“I guess that makes you and I partners.” the man said.
Rouald turned toward the man, his eyebrow raised in curiosity. An offer of partnership was not what he had been expecting.
The man continued, “Naturally you are confused. You were not present when the guards announced the part we will play in today's arena.”
Rouald responded quietly, “I was saying goodbye to my wife.”
“Ah.” said the man. “Then that explains your temporary absence. But since we will be partners I shall endeavor to explain the situation. You may call me Patrice. You are Rouald, yes?”
The mans speech and fine clothes marked him as a nobleman but still Rouald feared some kind of ploy. The man had the look of a trickster, but there seemed little harm in listening.
“That's right.” Rouald wondered for a moment if he had met the man before. If so, he didn't remember him. “Maybe you should tell me what I missed.”
Patrice began again, “Yes, of course. While you were bidding fondest farewells to your undoubtedly lovely wife, the guards announced that we criminals are to be chained in pairs and sent to battle a horde of slaves within the arena above.”
Rouald's brow furrowed at the news as he glanced around the room. He hadn't noticed it when he returned but it was clear that many of the men were standing in pairs where they had not been before.
Patrice said, “You have the look of a warrior to me and I should think that will be to our benefit. A man of experience who has held a sword and shield and defeated great foes.”
“I am a merchant.” Rouald replied more harshly than he meant. Patrice's eyes widened slightly at the force of the reply. Rouald continued more softly, “I was part of the kings guard many years ago, but I left that life behind. I am a merchant of exotic animals now.”
“Ah.” Patrice said understandingly. “You worked hard and rose above your station. I meant no offense. I only wished to say that you have the look of a fighter. I am not gifted in the arts of combat and finding myself paired with a man that appeared to have some skill struck me as good fortune.”
Patrice spoke the truth. A stiff west wind would probably knock the man down. And while his clothing was of the finest quality, it could not cover the frailty of the man contained within.
“It's alright.” Rouald sighed. “Not your fault you stumbled onto a sore subject. Many who knew me as a guard still treat me as such. I had hoped to have earned their respect by now.”
“Well let me return to the subject at hand and direct conversation away from my indelicate comment. As I was saying, upon the guards announcement the other men began to sort out who would be chained to whom, and within a short span of time all but I were partnered. I feared that I would be forced to fight alone, until you returned and made our partnership obvious.”
Rouald frowned and looked around the room again. Being chained to a man the others had all passed over seemed like a poor fate but the arena was a death sentence regardless. It seemed he had little choice.
“Worry not,” Patrice continued, “to be honest I chose to avoid the others as much as they chose to avoid me. Murderers and thieves that lot.” He whispered the last so as not to raise the ire of those same murderers and thieves.
For a moment Rouald's mind drifted back to Olivia. Her shining smile and sweet embrace. He frowned deeply knowing he would never see her again.
“Your thoughts grow dark my friend.” Patrice said, noticing Rouald's frown.
“You know me so well?” Rouald said sarcastically. “Until a moment ago you thought I was a great warrior.”
“I know you better than you think.” Patrice replied. “While the others strutted and growled like a pack of dogs you remained silent and alone. Only a man with a conscience would be so heartbroken at his coming demise. The others go to it with almost wild abandon. As if they always knew this would be their fate.”
The cell's gate groaned as several guards in steel plate entered with two rough wooden tables and an assortment of shackles and equipment.
One of the guards called out “All criminals line up two by two. Chains and shackles to be affixed at the first table. Choose your weapon at the second. Any who refuse will die where they stand. Any who resist will die where they stand. Any who choose a weapon and start trouble will be taken alive! But only so that they may be fed to the King's beasts kicking and screaming!”
It was a practiced speech, but it had the proper effect. The King's bestiary was known to feast on slaves and criminals who made such trouble, and it was rumored he was adding dragons to his collection.
Rouald knew those rumors were untrue. It was his job to know. There were no such things as dragons. But the other men did not have his experience and dragons or no, being torn apart by beasts would be a terrible end regardless. The men began to line up, two by two.
“So it begins.” Patrice said. His voice was emotionless but his face showed his fear clearly.
Rouald changed the subject quickly. If he was going to be chained to this man he didn’t need him freezing up from overwhelming terror.
As they stood and fell into line with the others Rouald said, “Best not to think about the coming battle. Focus on something else. You said you avoided the others because of their crimes? But we are all criminals here. Are you claiming innocence?”
“No.” Patrice answered sadly. “Though my crime is a far lesser one I think.”
“What did you do?” Rouald asked.
“The story is complex, but I shall not regale you with my tale of misbegotten woe. Suffice to say I fell in love with a ferocious woman and she with me.”
Rouald thought of his wife again but pushed the memory aside. “That doesn’t seem like a crime.”
“Alas if that were the end of the tale you would be right,” said Patrice, “but the woman had a husband who was equally ferocious.”
“Oh, I see.” said Rouald, “So they threw you down here.”
“Yes.” Patrice said quietly. “Though honestly it was my choice to come. They gave me the option of the gallows but I thought the hangman’s noose a far worse fate. An honorable death in the arena seemed preferable.”
The line of men moved along and soon they were at the first table. Chains and shackles were affixed to their ankles, the iron uncomfortable and encumbering. They shuffled their way to the next table where an array of weapons had been laid out.
The guard at the table wore a large steel helm which muffled his voice as he told them to choose.
“I shall leave the choice to you my friend. You have the greater experience.” Patrice said while carefully looking over the weapons displayed. “Perhaps the spear? It would give some distance at least.”
“No,” Rouald responded, “the spear requires training.”
He looked over the weapons briefly. There would be no perfect choice for a weak man that had never known combat, but eventually he decided upon a simple mace. Picking it up off the table he handed it to Patrice who grunted at its weight. For himself he chose a short sword similar to what he had used in his guarding days.
“A fine choice.” Patrice said admiring the sword. “Though I wonder what you expect me to do with this?” He swung the mace slowly, clearly imagining himself in battle.
“A mace is a simple weapon, “ explained Rouald, “but it will ruin anyone that isn't wearing armor. Just aim for the body, and try not to lose your balance.”
“As good a lesson as one can expect in these dire circumstances I'm sure.” Patrice said nodding his head in thanks. He continued, “It occurs to me that while I spoke of my crime you did not speak of yours. How did you end up facing the arena? A merchant is a respectable man. A merchant of exotic creatures, in this kingdom, doubly so. Did you cheat someone so badly they felt compelled to sentence you to death?”
“No.” Rouald said. “I made a mistake.”
They took several more shuffling steps forward. The guard at the cell gate opened it to let them through into a large stone tunnel that sloped gently up to the sands of arena itself.
“And that mistake?” Patrice prodded.
Rouald turned as he heard the faint cries of battle and the tunnel's heavy iron gate being lifted. The guards shouted for them to go.
“I spoke the truth to a king who didn't wish to hear it.” Rouald answered, readying himself for battle. “Bloody dragons!” he added with a snort.
Patrice surprised him with a smile and said, “Ah, the truth, the greatest crime of all. The King always was the prickly sort!”
They began their shuffling march towards the light of the arena above.
|# ? Jan 28, 2013 05:37|
edit: took this one out as i submitted it and got accepted HURRAH
sebmojo fucked around with this message at 09:30 on Mar 20, 2013
|# ? Jan 28, 2013 05:57|
^^^ added word count
|# ? Jan 28, 2013 06:00|
Two Hours Left.
|# ? Jan 28, 2013 06:04|
Is drunk posting legal here?
Ahahahah. I'm in Thunderdome. Of course it is.
|# ? Jan 28, 2013 06:51|
I was going to do something different for this but some stuff cropped up so here's a bunch of people smoking cigarettes again.
Birdfeeders (909 words)
The child’s eyes were sharp and cold, a boy who believed in no illusions. He stood at the sound of footsteps and remained so as they entered one by one, the captain and the carpenter. They were twins, or might have been. The carpenter stooped and coughed, face lined with worry as he shut the door. The captain simply stood, a statue in black uniform, a single cigarette burning softly between his lips. The carpenter too drew a cigarette hands trembling.
A small eternity passed within the attic. No words, no sound, save the sound of birds. A small cage lined with newspapers that the carpenter carried with him, it occupants the lone living things that graced room. This was where they were kept, the boy and the birds. At long last the captain removed his cap and turned to settle down on an upended bucket. The carpenter lowered the cage to the floor, still standing with the boy. The captain took his cigarette and rolled it idly between his fingers, eyes looming to the makeshift bed and the dishes below the window. He breathed in the drifting cinders of his habit and shuddered before speaking to his brother and his guest.
“How long has he been up here?”
“Does he speak?”
“A little. When he wants to.”
The captain clicked and extinguished his cigarette against the palm of his hand. His brother winced. The boy did not. Hands clasped, the captain bowed his head as though in prayer. The scent and the taste of the smoke lingered still, the incense of his religion. Again he clicked.
“Do you know the position this puts me in Walter? Do you understand?”
“Yes. Yes, I understand, I-”
“Then why do you show this to me? This boy, this-”
“You think…you think I could keep this from you?”
“You have been.”
“It was never the right time.”
“And now is the right time?”
“Oh please. You know why I had to wait. I couldn’t just announce-”
“But you did,” the captain leaned back, “You did announce it, here and now.”
“I am not a liar. Not to you.”
“Not a good liar is what you mean.”
“If you found him yourself you’d be angry. You’d be-”
“Forced to do my duty.”
The carpenter’s grip tightened on the cage. It shook ever so slightly, the birds within aflight in brief panic. The captain clicked and turned to the boy.
“What’s your name?”
The boy looked to the captain and for the first time seemed unsure of himself. The captain’s eyes were hollow, endlessly dark pupils, and yet within them brewed a quiet flame flickering gently in the distance. The boy cleared his throat and accepted the reality of his world.
“Kurt. Where is your family Kurt?”
“Papa is dead. Mama is dead.”
“Did you watch them die?”
“Then how do you know they are dead?”
“There were men with bags and cars. Papa worked at the police. Only dead people go in bags. They were alive at the time, perhaps, but I cannot imagine living people being stuffed into bags.”
“You saw this then, but were not with them?”
The captain clicked. The carpenter had grown used to it over the years. The boy didn’t think he’d ever get used to it.
“Do you know who I am?”
“Then what is my name?”
“I do not know your name…but I know who you are.”
The captain chuckled and began to miss the taste of the nicotine. From a pocket he produced a box and shook free another cigarette.
“Then you know what I must do?”
The lighter clicked.
“And you are not afraid?”
The lighter clicked again.
“You don’t look it.”
“Because it changes nothing. You’ll either take me, or you won’t.”
The lighter clicked a third time and produced a modest flame. The captain breathed in deep and satisfied. “I’ll either take you,” he repeated, “Or I won’t.” The captain turned to his brother, his mirror, the carpenter. The carpenter quivered but remained standing. He would not sit while the boy stood. From within the cage chirped the birds, isolated and free. The captain clicked and stood and groaned, hand to his back. For a moment his brother broke face and stepped forward, but was assured with silence his sibling was fine. A sound drifted through the open window. It was music. A man with a violin.
The captain approached the boy as he spoke to the carpenter.
“You’re a fool, Walter. You’ve always been a fool. But I suppose I can’t change that now can I?”
“No. I suppose you can’t.”
“That’s right. Man is limited. He can only do so much.”
The captain looked into the boy’s eyes and saw himself reflected. He raised his hand and ruffled the boy’s hair – the boy did not seem to like it – and turned to find the door. He grasped the handle but did not turn it.
“What are their names?”
“…Audrey. Audrey and Albert.”
“Audrey. Albert. Not a bad name for a couple of birds.”
“N-not at all.”
The captain stood before the door, fingers still at the handle.
“You always were one to take in some manner of strange animal I couldn’t bother to keep track of. What’s one more for the menagerie?”
The door opened and the captain stepped through it.
|# ? Jan 28, 2013 07:28|
IDK what is with my mom-themed writing lately. My mom is a cool lady. Anyway. Cutting it close as always.
Theme: The consequences of a truth/lie.
(Liar liar)Girl on Fire
"I was under the bridge trying to sleep," Nicolette told the police officers. "I'm not from here, so I didn't know...anyway, two guys came up and started trying to pull my clothes off, hold me down." She swallowed. "I don't know how long that went on. I must have screamed because then someone, this girl, came running down from the road with her cell phone out. Guess she was calling 911 or something. Ran right into the guys and knocked them off of me." Nicolette paused, looked down at her lap.
"And then what happened?" One of the officers prompted gently.
"I think--I think, like I said. They were shocked for a second, but then they both turned on her. There was no time to think, they were hurting her for real, not just trying to--to do what they were doing with me. I saw red and tried to fight them off her but they were way bigger than both of us and--and--"
She buried her face in her hands. There was the sound of a tissue box sliding across the desk.
"Honestly I didn't see what happened to her. I tried to help but one guy dragged me off and I must have passed out or got hit in the head or something because next thing I knew, it was early morning and I didn't know where I was or what'd happened. I started piecing it together and went back to get my stuff, but by then it was a crime scene. That's when I knew I needed to come to you."
Nicolette looked up at the officers and tried to read the looks on their faces. Both were frowning, though if it was a compassionate frown or otherwise she couldn't say.
"And you don't remember what the two men look like at all?"
Nicolette shook her head, then regretted it. The head wound wasn't a lie, at least. "You saw the scene. It's dark under that bridge at night."
The officers, a man and a woman, exchanged a look. The woman, whose badge read Larsen, gave a very slight shrug that Nicolette was sure was meant to go unseen.
"I think that's all we need for now, Miss Petrovski," officer Larsen said.
They asked for Nicolette's contact information and, when she had none, directed her to the front desk to obtain the number to a local women's shelter. She walked through the foyer of the police station without so much as pausing, eyes fixed on the double set of doors between her and anonymity. Her obligation to the victim was fulfilled; the police knew more than they had before, even if it wasn't the whole truth.
A woman sitting by the doors stood when Nicolette approached. Her face was crumpled with grief, and Nicolette knew without being told that this was her nameless rescuer's mother.
"You," the woman said. "They said you were with Nadine. They said you tried to fight those loving shitstains off." She touched a hand to her temple. "I'm sorry. I'm Megan Radcliffe. Nadine was--"
"Your daughter," Nicolette finished. Her heart pounded. The police were one thing, but this...
"I'm just glad someone was there to fight for her. It means more than anything to me." Megan's voice broke on the last few words, barely a whisper.
"They killed her because she was trying to help me, you know," Nicolette said in a flat voice. "If she would've just kept walking she'd still be here."
"I would give almost anything to get my daughter back, but one thing I would never ask is to put another mother through this hell." Megan gripped Nicolette's arm hard enough to hurt. "Don't you ever waste the gift my daughter gave you by hating yourself. You tried. That's all I can ask." She shuddered and stepped away, burying her face in her hands.
"My mother wouldn't mind, you know," Nicolette said, and wondered if the guilt she felt was written on her face. "Hell, she'd probably never know. Haven't talked to her for five years.
Megan looked up. "Maybe this is crazy. I'm crazy right now. But my house is going to be really...really empty tonight and I wouldn't mind some company." She gave Nicolette an appraising look, a mother's look. "And I have a feeling you weren't under that bridge by choice, sweetie."
"I couldn't--" Nicolette began to say, but the promise of a warm bed and a shower was more alluring than sketchy thrills under a bridge. And Megan would have none of it.
"Just this," she said. "Just give me this one more thing."
One night turned into days. Megan spent the time on leave from her job as a legal secretary, cooking for two, chattering about banal things to Nicolette as though nothing was wrong. At night she would crumble and sob and beg Nicolette to look through photos of Nadine with her. Nadine the soccer star. Nadine, recipient of the high school literary achievement award. Nadine graduating from college with honors.
And Nicolette would lay awake in the dead girl's bed and sweat over half-truths, wondering if she could ever live up her own story. Megan deserved to believe her daughter wasn't alone at the end. She deserved company in an otherwise empty house. Telling one lie, was that worse than shattering the pleasant truths that sprung up around it?
After a week at Megan's, Nicolette made the call. There was only the landline, so she waited until Megan was asleep, and then took the phone into a closet on the far side of the house.
"Who's this?" A man's voice answered.
"You know," Nicolette said.
There was a long pause on the other end. "I don't want anything to do with you, whatever this is about."
"Please don't hang up. I just, I just want to give you the money. All of it. I'm done. Just take it, and we can all forget about each other."
"This is about that dumb bitch who got herself killed, isn't it? You tell them who did it?"
"No, no, no I wouldn't. I just want to give you all the money and disappear. No debt, no trouble."
Silence. Then the man on the other end of the phone started to laugh. "You know, I just checked the number you're calling on. I've had a guy with an eye on that house since we found out the dead girl's name. And here we've found a loose end, right where we were looking for 'em." He laughed again, more of a chuckle. "So does her mama know you ran off and left her baby girl to die 'cause you couldn't pay the dope fairy?"
"Just tell me where you want to meet. No trouble. Please." Nicolette's heart pounded in her ears.
"They told me they had to hit her real hard. The girl who tried to save your rear end, she went down fighting. How far did you run before you decided to skulk down to police station to make sure your name was clear?"
"How far would you run if I told you I have a guy across the street who could turn that house into a morgue for two in ten minutes flat?"
Nicolette hung up the phone. She didn't remember making the decision, but then it was done. The silence of the closet rang in her ears. The wording was perfectly clear; she was a loose end, one way or another. If they didn't kill her, the lie would fall apart as soon as Megan could see past the immediacy of her grief, Nicolette was sure. Ms. Radcliffe was a canny woman beneath the stupor of losing a child.
The next day, Nicolette tried to do the one right thing she could think of. The drug money became a cashier's check, made payable to Megan Radcliffe and no one else. This, Nicolette put in an envelope with a note that read simply:
I should've fought harder.
She couldn't bring herself to write the whole truth, not even then. There was a bit of money left over, just enough to buy a pistol from a shady letch, though not enough for ammunition. She didn't think about what she had done to get the bullets. It didn't bear thinking about, not anymore.
When she found her attackers at one of their usual haunts, she didn't hesitate. The pistol was strange and unwieldy in her hands, and the first shot went comically wide.
The second shot didn't, and one of the men went to his knees with a look of shock and a small blossom of blood on the front of his shirt.
The other man drew his own weapon and, with a look of annoyance, shot Nicolette in the chest.
"What a waste," said a voice, far away and muffled.
But I fought, she wanted to say. Now everything I said is true...
I fought for you.
|# ? Jan 28, 2013 07:58|
Brenda (1542 words)
Brenda first met Neil as her parents helped her load boxes into her dorm room. Her mother felt obliged to say something mortifying about her "baby girl," and her father only grunted a few sub-audible niceties that left everyone perplexed. Neil produced words that could have come from a "Greet the Parents" instruction manual, and made brief eye contact with Brenda. His dark complexion and clear blue eyes left her unable to concentrate for the rest of the move-in.
Two nights later, the parents having retreated to their homes, a cloud of fear dissipating in their wake, Brenda found Neil alone in the lounge. He tapped at his phone and ignored the flickering light of the TV that illuminated the room.
"Hey creeper." He spoke without taking his eyes off the phone in his hand.
Brenda stood behind the couch. "So much for the hub of student life."
"It will be." He poked at his phone. "They're either tucked away in their rooms trying to prove their parents wrong, or downtown trying to prove them right."
"I'm keeping an eye on all you through my network of spies." He held up the phone so she could see the several conversations he managed. "Brenda, right? 2A?"
Brenda nodded. "So, should I put you in my phone so you can get me out of trouble?"
"Are you planning on getting into trouble, 2A?"
She glanced from side to side.
She smiled. “I didn't really mean to interrupt...”
"Sit," he ordered.
She felt herself blush.
Ten minutes later Brenda closed and locked the door to Neil's room behind herself.
She watched as he plugged in his phone and emptied his pockets. He had been clear that though he had no roommate, she needed to be quiet as 'the building has ears and eyes you wouldn't believe.'
She felt dizzy as he approached, and he didn't stop until he pinned her body against the door. His thigh pressed between her legs and his hand slid up her neck and grasped her hair. As they kissed, Brenda felt her body pulse involuntarily, and before she realized he'd done it, his hand slid into her panties. She couldn't hold back. She ground into his fingers and his muscular thigh and as her eyes rolled back he let go of her hair and held his finger to his lips for an instant. "Shhh." He admonished, and pushed his hand over her mouth, holding her hard against the door.
Brenda slumped onto his thigh as she came, the breaths coming hard through her nose. Only when she could stand did he release her. She immediately went for his jeans, but he stopped her.
"Sit." He pointed at his desk chair.
She tried again, and he stopped her a second time.
"Sit." The second time it was an order.
Brenda felt delirious. She sat, trying her best to appear inviting.
“First, I'm not allowed to gently caress students. Even that, just now, was totally wrong. Everyone messes around, but it must be on the down low. Second," and he held up two fingers to emphasize this point, "I'm not looking for a girlfriend or a relationship. If this goes any further, you need to understand that there will be other women."
She waited to be sure he was done. "In this state, I'd agree to almost anything.” She sighed. “I don't need a boyfriend."
Neil watched her for what felt like a minute. "Alright 2A, I'll hold you to that."
"Go on then," he motioned to the door, "Get some sleep."
"You're sending me away?"
"For now. You have a problem with that?"
Brenda stood and righted her dress. She leveled her eyes at him one last time, but he merely smiled and motioned to the door.
Her original belief--that her moment of desire had clouded her judgment—quickly gave way to the conviction that Neil was perfect. Of course he kept his distance, and publicly presented a front that belied awareness of Brenda. In private, however, it was a different story.
"On your knees."
She watched for a moment from the tops of her eyes.
He swelled slightly at her insolence. "Now."
She slowly acquiesced, intoxicated by the tone in his voice.
"I had been thinking that you were proving to be quite a good listener." He ran his fingers down her shoulders from behind, goosebumps raising in their wake. "I expect nothing short of perfection." He leaned over her shoulder. "Is that clear?"
What followed verified Brenda's conviction that the two were made for one another. Cosmic in origin. Only when the phone rang early the following morning was that illusion shattered.
"Not a word." He admonished before answering.
"...No. Melissa, you knew the situation.... Of course I expect you to deal with it....Well that....Well, that....Listen. That is always your choice." A long pause followed and Brenda heard nothing. "You let me know. Right."
He hung up his phone. "You should go." He didn't look at her as he spoke, nor did it seem that he watched as she climbed from his bed and dressed before sneaking from his room.
Brenda began poking deeper into Neil's life. He had been seeing Melissa and another dorm resident, also named Melissa. Melissa One seemed to already be on the edge. She had been with Neil since before he moved into the dorm as an RA, and they had nearly split at the time. Melissa Two, on the other hand, possessed a similar arrangement to Brenda, and when Brenda considered the notion of Neil holding Melissa against his door, she all but panicked.
An opportunity came two weeks later. She tracked Neil to a popular cafe, and watched as he met Melissa One and sat with her on one of the couches. The conversation obviously wasn't going the way Neil had hoped. Melissa One was shaking her head and there were tears. Brenda moved.
"Neil? Neil! I didn't know you ever left the dorm!" She arrived as cheerfully as she could fake and set her fresh cappuccino down on their table. "Hi, I'm Brenda." She offered a hand to Melissa One.
Melissa nodded as she halfheartedly squeezed Brenda's hand.
"Brenda lives in 2A, right, Brenda?" Neil's voice inflected anger just slightly. Brenda knew she would be punished for this, and it made her tingle to think of it.
"That's right. Rooming with Stacey, but I don't feel like I've seen much of her." She smiled at Neil. "Not as much as I've seen Neil, at least." She winked at Melissa One, who wilted right before her eyes. "Well, I'll leave you two to it. See you at the dorm." She scooped up her cup and made her way to the far side of the room, from where she watched the rest of Neil's connection to Melissa One crumble.
Her punishment was far more severe than Brenda ever imagined. Neil refused to speak with her. He wouldn't reply to her text messages or acknowledge the note she left apologizing for "any wrong she had done." By the end of the week, it was clear that he was confiding with Melissa Two, and desperate situations require desperate actions.
"Everyone knows what's going on with Neil and Melissa. They're not, like, discreet, or anything." Brenda tried to sound concerned but not quite gossipy. "It's just a little uncomfortable, and my parents said I should come to you first."
Nancy, the residential manager, forced a well-practiced smile that failed to disguise her anger. "Of course you did the right thing. I'll check into this, and you can assure your parents we take these matters very seriously." She sighed. "I'm really sorry you had to deal with this Brenda."
"Thank you Ms. Robert. My classes are pretty hard. I just want to focus on my studies." Brenda tried her best to put a little tremble in her smile.
Brenda knocked again at the apartment door. "Neil, I know you're in there. I followed you from school. Just talk to me, please."
With hesitation the locks turned from inside, and the door opened a crack. Neil's face appeared. "Brenda. You shouldn't be here."
"I miss you Neil! I don't know what happened. Word is that the trollop turned you in."
"That's not what I heard." Neil squinted at her. "Who's talking about me anyway?"
Brenda shrugged. Tears welled in the corners of her eyes, but as he shifted she glimpsed a pair of legs inside on his couch. Fancy, patterned stockings with the white reinforced toes were all she could see.
"Brenda, it's messy and I really can't have any students in my life right now."
The tears cut loose and spilled down her cheeks. "Neil," she nearly whispered, "we were perfect. I don't care about school."
"It's legal poo poo, Brenda." He shook his head. "You have to go."
She sniffed and turned pleading eyes at him.
"Go." He ordered, and Brenda turned.
She could feel his eyes trace the seams up the back of her stockings as she navigated the uneven stepping stones in her tall, spiked heels. She reached up and pulled the lever on the gate, and disappeared behind it with a click.
|# ? Jan 28, 2013 08:00|
Looks like poo poo is closed. The rest of you talked a big talk, but you weren't cock o' the walk.
|# ? Jan 28, 2013 08:03|
Had some ideas about how everyone could get more bang for their (although, really, Thunderdome kicks the poo poo out of writing courses that costs a hundred times that much, so you all ought to be goddamn grateful for what you've got):
DO YOU THINK YOUR TD EXPERIENCE WOULD IMPROVE IF:
* You were guaranteed at least two (short) critiques for every round you entered.
IF SO, WOULD YOU SUPPORT A SYSTEM BY WHICH:
* Every contestant, by default, would be considered available to judge the next round, unless they stated otherwise when posting their entry;
* Contestants who state that they are not available judge the next round would not be eligible to win the current round, nor would they receive any guaranteed critiques;
* Each round of judging would be followed by the two least-senior judges (i.e., the ones who have judged the fewest consecutive rounds) posting (short) critiques of each piece.
The idea being that--to quote Stan Lee--with great power comes great responsibility. If someone's a big enough swingin' dick (or swollen clitoris) to stand atop a pile of their vanquished comrades at the end of the week, they ought to repay the time that the previous round's judges put in to reading everybody's poo poo, and try to help the other kids hone their skillz. None of y'all want to be poo poo writers. None of the judges want to read poo poo entries. Everybody benefits.
Paired crits are great when they're voluntary, but there's no leverage to compel anyone to do them. People get butthurt when they don't win and gently caress off to parts of the site where their widdle feewings won't be bruised, never to return. But the winners become judges, and they tend to stick around--for honor, for glory, or just for the chance to gently caress with people over the next week.
WHAT SAY YOU?
|# ? Jan 28, 2013 08:04|
I am down for this system. I think getting at least two critiques is super-useful, especially for new writers who might not have the writing vocabulary to grok every critique they get immediately.
|# ? Jan 28, 2013 08:12|
I would support this system. I really do want detailed critique that castigates the everliving poo poo out of me and makes something out of my terrible writing.
|# ? Jan 28, 2013 08:13|
I really do want detailed critique
How detailed they get would be up to the individual judge, but let's say at least two specific points.
(Really detailed critiques, when you've got to spend a day reading 20-40,000 words just to form an opinion, isn't really feasible.)
|# ? Jan 28, 2013 08:18|
* Each round of judging would be followed by the two least-senior judges (i.e., the ones who have judged the fewest consecutive rounds) posting (short) critiques of each piece.
Are you saying that the TD standard judge allocation formula would be altered? At present, we get 2 of The Original Three or Those Deemed Worthy in addition to last week's victor. It sounds like you're suggesting that a winner would be a judge for two weeks. Perhaps there is something I misunderstand.
I'm a fan of critiques and would be willing to step up if called upon to do so.
|# ? Jan 28, 2013 08:23|
I also support budgie even though I didn't actually read what he wrote, but I trust him to not be a retard like the rest of you.
I also support shunning you from thunderdome for X period of time if you don't follow through on whatever system is elected. The Fiction Farm was expanded to allow for TD stories to be posted there.
So don't bitch about crits ever again.
|# ? Jan 28, 2013 08:26|
I'm definitely down for this system. Nothing is more important to a writer than critique. I'm not sure I'd be able to outright judge any of the rounds, but if called upon to do so I won't back down.
|# ? Jan 28, 2013 08:27|
|# ? Jul 2, 2022 01:33|
As a guy who just sort of futzes around when nothing is expected of me but bites the bullet and DOES IT when put on the spot, I am strongly in favor of mandatory critiques.
|# ? Jan 28, 2013 08:35|