Register a SA Forums Account here!
JOINING THE SA FORUMS WILL REMOVE THIS BIG AD, THE ANNOYING UNDERLINED ADS, AND STUPID INTERSTITIAL ADS!!!

You can: log in, read the tech support FAQ, or request your lost password. This dumb message (and those ads) will appear on every screen until you register! Get rid of this crap by registering your own SA Forums Account and joining roughly 150,000 Goons, for the one-time price of $9.95! We charge money because it costs us $3,400 per month for bandwidth bills alone, and since we don't believe in shoving popup ads to our registered users, we try to make the money back through forum registrations.
«150 »
  • Locked thread
Noah
May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch


Still waiting on that Brawl, Echo.

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

Down With People
Oct 31, 2012

The child delights in violence.


Echo Cian posted:

Down With People: Brunch

Thanks! I was worried mine had gone completely forgotten.

STONE OF MADNESS
Dec 28, 2012

PVTREFACTIO


Starcrossed
1120 words

Derek flung his satchel on the bed with somewhat too much force; it slithered across the bare mattress and landed on the floorboards with an uncomfortable thud.

“poo poo,” he slurred, a little too loud; he was thoroughly drunk.

It was Christmas Eve, and for the first time in nearly two years, Derek was alone.

He'd known when Claris handed him his present; the laxness of her grip on the narrow parcel, the cheap, effortless packaging, the very act of giving early.

“I'm not coming tomorrow,” she'd said, fishing a twenty-dollar bill out of her clasp. “I already picked up my stuff. It's over.” And she'd left him where he sat, empty dishes littering the table, a faltering smile clinging to his face as he turned her present over in his hands. He hadn't cried.

Her twenty covered half the check; he'd expected to pay it all anyway and spent the balance on cheap wine, pouring glass after glass of anonymous red down his gullet until the sad-faced waiter clasped him by the shoulder and asked him, politely, to leave.

After which he'd hit Mac's, and now, with a couple dozen drinks in his system, he was home.

“poo poo,” he said again, the word spilling out of his mouth in a wash of hot vapour. A noxious whirlpool raced around inside his skull; it was like he'd docked his head at a petrol bowser. He could feel the paint slowly peeling on the backs of his eyes.

“I need to sit down.”

* * *

Derek awoke to find his cheek stuck to the pleather padding of his armchair, coated by a gummy rind of congealed saliva. His right eye wouldn't open; the lashes had fused, and his fingers were just too drat clumsy to help.

“Fuckit,” he croaked, hauling himself upright, lurching over to his little kitchenette. There were dishes in the sink; an abundance of glassware, all of it filthy, and cockroaches scuttling out of sight between them. He cleared a space and stuck his head under the faucet, drinking deeply, feeling the tissues of his mouth relaxing as their residues dissolved.

He had some tablets in the fridge. Why he kept them there and not somewhere convenient like right here by the dishrack, he couldn't say; the fridge seemed a lifetime away, and with each slow step he felt the ground pitching beneath him, ready to fall away completely and send him tumbling down that nauseous abyss, into the river of vomit he so desperately wanted to avoid.

The capsules clicked out of their packaging, and as they tumbled into the palm of his hand he glimpsed the vodka-bottle peeping out at him from its roost above the crisper – the perfect accompaniment. He took a neat swig, feeling the aspirin trace its foaming path down his throat as the vodka, still slightly too warm, burned after.

Right, then. Back to normal.

“It's over.”

Wasting no time, eh? Well, she hadn't given him a whole lot to work with, there; there were only so many times he could replay that little snippet. Fine, she'd left him. At least she'd been quick, and honest; he'd been through worse, much worse, and there didn't seem much point in dwelling on it more than he absolutely had to.

From the bedroom, a buzzing and a beep; his phone.

“Claris,” he said, a surge of hope rising in his chest, and he fumbled his way over to his bedroom, to the source of the noise. It was nice and dark in here, a relief from the piercing outdoor-light that seeped in through his loungeroom curtains, and for a moment he just sagged against the doorjamb, waiting for the phone beep again, to give away its position.

There – on the floor behind the bed. He climbed onto the mattress and scooped his satchel from the floor, dragging it up to rest by his chest, feeling around inside it for the smooth rubber surface of the phone.

It vibrated again, its tone a little hollower this time – running out of battery, no doubt – and he found it, tucked up against the lining. He grabbed it –
“Ah, gently caress! gently caress!”
Pain lanced through his finger – the screen must have cracked, and as he drew the phone out of his bag he saw a droplet of his own blood soaking its way in between the slivers of glass.

2:21 PM


3 new messages

Carefully, he dragged his fingertip across the screen and nudged the prompt. But it wasn't Claris, calling to make up – it was his parents. Was he alright? Did he need help? Would they still be seeing him next week, for his birthday?

Of course. Christmas lunch. Well, that was definitely not happening today.

Derek slouched onto his back, gazing up at the tiny screen, thumbing his way through photos of Claris. It was beautiful, in a way, watching her face slide side-to-side beneath the fractured glass, as he deleted every loving memory she'd left behind.

Bitch.


Then, there was – that shot. He lingered; he wasn't so sure about deleting this one, and anyway, what was the rush? He stared at it for what seemed like hours, savouring each contour of her body, memorising every graceful curve, until it felt as though his eyes just couldn't stare any more, and he started to lose focus. He dragged it to the trashcan, and let his gaze relax.

Silhouetted against the screen, something small and dark sat poised atop his index finger, right where he'd cut it, a loving cockroach –

“Jesus gently caress!” He flicked his hand, slapped at the lightswitch on the wall.

All across the surface of his mattress, little brown-black shapes manoeuvred swiftly into shadow, some over the edge of the bed, some beneath his pillow, but most of them reversing their course, crawling back into his satchel.

“The gently caress?” He pawed the bag upright, but the light was just too dim to see inside – he tipped it upside-down, spilling magazines, mint-rolls, cigarettes, all over the bed. And bugs. Little flat almond-shaped bugs racing for the nearest patch of darkness, and already he could see them moving in the periphery, scuttling around the corners of his dresser, working their way between the corners of his bedframe.

Bedbugs. loving bedbugs.

An object still remained, half-protruding from the mouth of his bag – a crumpled paper packet. A gift from Claris.

Derek peeled away the tape, unfolding it. It was a page from OK! magazine, the horoscopes – she knew he hated that crap – and as it shifted in his hands, a slew of small specks, like burnt crumbs, rilled down across its surface, over three words scrawled in Claris's blocky hand.

Happy birthday, rear end in a top hat.



A/T threads

twinkle cave
Dec 20, 2012


THUNDERCRIT - LET THE BLOOD FLOW!!!!

STONE OF MADNESS posted:

Starcrossed
1120 words

Derek flung his satchel on the bed with somewhat too much force; it slithered across the bare mattress and landed on the floorboards with an uncomfortable thud.

“poo poo,” he slurred, a little too loud; he was thoroughly drunk.

It was Christmas Eve, and for the first time in nearly two years, Derek was alone.

He'd known when Claris handed him his present; the laxness of her grip on the narrow parcel, the cheap, effortless packaging, the very act of giving early.

“I'm not coming tomorrow,” she'd said, fishing a twenty-dollar bill out of her clasp. “I already picked up my stuffI've packed. It's over.” And she'd left him where he sat, empty dishes littering the table, a faltering smile clinging to his face as he turned her present over in his hands. He hadn't cried.

Her twenty covered half the check; he'd expected to pay it all anyway and spent the balance on cheap wine, pouring glass after glass of anonymousforgettable red down his gullet until the sad-faced waiter clasped him by the shoulder and asked him, politely, to leave.

After which he'd hit Mac's, and now, with a couple dozen drinks processingin his system, he was home.

“poo poo,” he said again, the word spilling out of his mouth outin a wash of hot vapour. A noxious whirlpool raced around inside his skull; it was like he'd docked his head at a petrol bowser. He could feel the paint slowly peeling on the backs of his eyes.

“I need to sit down.”

* * *

Derek awoke to find his cheek stuck to the pleather padding of his armchair, coated by a gummy rind of congealed saliva. His right eye wouldn't open; the lashes had fused, and his fingers were uselessjust too drat clumsy to help.

“Fuckit,” he croaked, hauling himself upright, lurching over to his little kitchenette. There were dishes in the sink; an abundance of glassware, all of it filthy., and Cockroaches scuttling out of sight between them. He cleared a space and stuck his head under the faucet, drinking deeply, feeling the mouth tissues of his mouth relaxing as their residues dissolved.

He had some tablets in the fridge. Why he kept them there and not somewhere convenient like right here by the dishrack, he couldn't say; the fridge seemed a lifetime away, and with each slow step he felt the ground pitching beneath him, ready to fall away completely and send him tumbling down that nauseous abyss, into the river of vomit he so desperately wanted to avoid. You're starting to lose me on this paragraph with some of the close ups. It's kinda draging the hungover thing out and pointing to daily minutia that's not terribly interesting. Maybe "He went for the tablets in the fridge, wanted to avoid vomiting." or shortened somehow.

The capsules clicked out of their packaging, and as they tumbled into the palm of his hand he glimpsed the vodka-bottle peeping out at him from its roost above the crisper – the perfect accompaniment. He took a neat swig, feeling the aspirin trace its foaming path down his throat as the vodka, still slightly too warm, burned after.

Right, then. Back to normal.

“It's over.”

Wasting no time, eh? Well, she hadn't given him a whole lot to work with, there; there were only so many times he could replay that little snippet. Fine, she'd left him. At least she'd been quick, and honest; he'd been through worse, much worse, and there didn't seem much point in dwelling on it more than he absolutely had to.

From the bedroom, a buzzing and a beep; his phone.

“Claris,” he said, a surge of hope rising in his chest, and he fumbled his way over to his to the bedroom, to the source of the noise. It was nice and dark in here, a relief from the piercing outdoor-light that seeped in through his loungeroom curtains, and for a moment he just sagged against the doorjamb, waiting for the phone beep again, to give away its position.

There – on the floor behind the bed. He climbed onto the mattress and scooped his satchel from the floor, dragging it up to rest by his chest, feeling around inside it for the smooth rubber surface of the phone.

It vibrated again, its tone a little hollower this time – running out of battery, no doubt – and he found it, tucked up against the lining. He grabbed it –
“Ah, gently caress! gently caress!”
Pain lanced through his finger – the screen must have cracked, and as he drew the phone out of his bag he saw a droplet of his own blood soaking its way in between the slivers of glass.

2:21 PM


3 new messages

Carefully, he dragged his fingertip across the screen and nudged the prompt. But it wasn't Claris, calling to make up – it was his parents. Was he alright? Did he need help? Would they still be seeing him next week, for his birthday?

Of course. Christmas lunch. Well, that was definitely not happening today.

Derek slouched onto his back, gazing up at the tiny screen, thumbing his way through photos of Claris. It was beautiful, in a way, watching her face slide side-to-side beneath the fractured glass, as he deleted every loving memory she'd left behind. good image, good words

Bitch.


Then, there was – that shot. He lingered; he wasn't so sure about deleting this one. and anyway, what was the rush? He stared at it for what seemed like hours, savouring each contour of her body, memorising everythe graceful curves, until it felt as though his eyes just couldn't stare any more, and he started to lose focus. He dragged it the image to the trashcan, and let his gaze relax.

Silhouetted against the screen, something small and dark sat poised atop his index finger, right where he'd cut it, a loving cockroach –

“Jesus gently caress!” He flicked his hand, slapped at the lightswitch on the wall.

All across the surface of his mattress, little brown-black shapes manoeuvred swiftly into shadow, some over the edge of the bed, some beneath his pillow, but most of them reversing their course, crawling back into his satchel.

“The gently caress?” He pawed the bag upright, but the light was just too dim to see inside – he tipped it upside-down, spilling magazines, mint-rolls, cigarettes, all over the bed. And bugs. Little flat almond-shaped bugs racing for the nearest patch of darkness, and already he could see them moving in the periphery, scuttling around the corners of his dresser, working their way between the corners of his bedframe.

Bedbugs. loving bedbugs.

An object still remained, half-protruding from the mouth of his bag – a crumpled paper packet. A gift from Claris.

Derek peeled away the tape, unfolding it. It was a page from OK! magazine, the horoscopes – she knew he hated that crap – and as it shifted in his hands, a slew of small specks, like burnt crumbs, rilled down across its surface, over three words scrawled in Claris's blocky hand.

Happy birthday, rear end in a top hat.



A/T threads

Actually not any blood here. Good story. I made the edits which should be self-evident to your skillz. Some of them may be good, others not. I did it mostly for brevity and pace as I saw it. The story has a good turn and a good idea. Simple and neat, to the point. You might think about replacing the christams call with something that ties into the theme better. That part is rather unimportant and could be changed to reflect and deepen the mood of the story.

CancerCakes
Jan 10, 2006

WORST WIZARD, THUNDERDOME
LOSER


I cut this down from over 2000 and removed a poo poo load of elements so within 100 is good enough for me, but probably not for judges.
A/T link here

Large Delta, Capricorn 1257 words.

Any attempt to calculate the galactic cosmic-ray environment ... will involve considerable uncertainty. - NASA SP-8054

“Wake up you piece of poo poo, the computers gone loving loopy and we are going to loving die!”

James’ eyes struggled to focus on the monstrosity that had appeared in front of him. The face had been extruded so that the chin and forehead were twice the width of the mouth and nose, while the eyes looked like upside down tear drops. The effect was topped by masses of ginger hair at each end. Understandably he tried to scream, but he suddenly realised that he was drowning.

“Oh for fucks sake! He’s still high on the corpse drugs, Sally, help me get James out of there.”

Another face appeared, this one similarly distorted, with a halo of brown hair and big green eyes. James gibbered at the aliens while they banged on the outside of his capsule, and scrabbled at the plastic walls in panic. Then, with a hiss of escaping pressure, the bulbous glass front opened and electrolyte fluid burst out. James flowed out with it and received a sharp, stinging, backhand to the face, which caused him to vomit fluid in a cloud around him.

“Pull yourself together you useless twat!”

David yanked out the drip line, and the needle scraped out of James’ arm, releasing a few tiny droplets of blood to mingle with the halo of fluid that surrounded him. As soon as the serum stopped entering his body the disorientation and terror began to recede, and a body that had not moved for perhaps decades made its complaints known. Every part of it ached and itched, his extremities were numb and his brain felt several sizes too large for his skull. His cheek stung where he had been slapped, his limbs were leaden and bleeding, so to perk him up a little Sally kicked off a nearby bulk head and stabbed him in the arse. As stimulants from the stim-pen began to reach his brain and muscles they eased his aches and pains slightly, and James began to regain control of his shattered mind. He realised that Sally and David, his human crew mates, were floating in front of him.

“What’s going on?” he rasped, after a couple of stuttering attempts at speech.

“Get your arse over there and work it out for yourself,” growled David, his ginger afro and beard sickeningly undulating like a deep sea anemone. He pushed James over to a giant black panel and suddenly a man appeared in it, blonde hair and beard streaming in all directions, with talon-like fingernails weaving in front of him. “Fix it, you’re the engineer!”

James waved at the touch-free screen and it blinked on, simply displaying white text on a blue background. He grunted and began to work through the debugging sequences. Finally he reached the map screen: a dotted blue line, originating from Sol, stretched from left to right, with “Earth 2” orbiting the star Delta Capricorni at the far end. Another blinking red line followed this for perhaps two thirds of the distance. James’ rubbed his eyes and peered at the red line, which seemed to get slightly longer. Which shouldn’t be possible. The sheer mind boggling scale of the 39 light year journey should mean that at this scale no motion should be detectable, for months. The trip was meant to last 400 years.

“I think we’re in trouble here”

They started to wave their hands at various screens mounted around them while shouting out information as it appeared to them. It would have seemed to an outside observer like three lunatics had escaped after a long stay at some asylum.

"All life support intact."

"Autopilot functioning."

"No breaches or hull damage."

“Cargo still intact, thank god. No alpha waves.”

"Then why did it wake our asses up?”

“The auto started the emergency wake up when we hit 1 au an hour.”

“That is really moving!”

“Just how fast are we going now?"

“Engines kicked for 60 hours, full power, reached 1/3 c 10 hours ago.”

“That seems a little too fast -”

“It burnt all the loving brake fuel.”

James and Sally looked at David as the reality of their situation sank in. In space objects travel at a constant speed unless a force acts on them. The engines had just burnt all the fuel they had in store to slow down once they reached their destination. Instead they had used it to accelerate them to almost seven million miles an hour. They would arrive at Earth 2, their new home, and speed past it so fast they wouldn’t even see it. Or worse, hit it. Their ship had become a speeding bullet that would obliterate any small planet they hit, including the new planet where they had hoped to start new lives, along with the other 100,000 people in the cargo hold.

James was working automatically, unable to cope with the facts, or their implications. He began to go through the logs, waving listlessly at the displays, trying to work out what had caused their horrific predicament. All those people on this ship, the men, women and children that had worked hard to leave their scorched world. They had left to create a new society, a new civilization, but instead they would never be woken at their destination.

It seemed that the autopilot had been working perfectly up until a stray bit of information suddenly caused the acceleration, a single switched bit. In a system that processed terabytes a second it a single bit should be insignificant - instead it had ensured that they were as good as dead. He looked for the cause of the blip, he checked that the programming was correct, that the star-nav had no problems, that there was no hardware malfunction. They had only passed a star while it was going supernova. The cosmic rays had been analysed by the scientific computer as having a higher than normal heavy atom percentage.

The logs showed that a single tellurium atom, stripped of all electrons and fired at the speed of light from the heart of a dying star, had pierced their radiation shields and buried itself in the computer. It had flipped a single gate in a single wafer of a single processor and so had given birth to an avalanche of logic decisions that had caused the engines to fire them through space. The people in the holds would sleep forever, hurtling through space until they hit some unsuspecting star or planet, or perhaps crossed the event horizon of a black hole. They would reach their destination, but never be able to stop - it seemed like a cruel joke by some capricious god, or perhaps punishment for daring to travel to another planet for humankind to destroy.

He remembered the plans and dossiers from Earth, that there would always be plans b through z and well into the greek alphabet to fall back on.

“You know how at the end of the mission flowchart it said ‘Allow for unscheduled mission termination’? Sally, I think its time for the black folder.”

Sally wordlessly pulled out the lock box and drew out a small black envelope. James thought it was much too thin to have any useful information in it. She ripped it open and read out the contents and David glowered at his screen, refusing to look up.

“In the event that the Searcher One mission does not succeed, the crew should take solace in the fact that they have been apart of the advancement of all humankind, and pray that Searcher Two and Three succeed where they have failed.”

angel opportunity
Sep 7, 2004

Total Eclipse of the Heart

I posted my story a few pages ago; did I gently caress up and need to wait until the signups were over to post? It seems like that is what everyone else is doing.

twinkle cave
Dec 20, 2012


systran posted:

I posted my story a few pages ago; did I gently caress up and need to wait until the signups were over to post? It seems like that is what everyone else is doing.

no. you did it right. i owed stones a crit. everyone else is just pussyfooting around.

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

No, you're fine. I've read your story and linked it into the prompt post with the rest.

Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart


Under Pressure (1190 words)

Thirty-six hours after dying, Phil leaned his metal chair back on two legs, a butt in his mouth, scratching the stippled rash on his neck. Outside, a three-story tower of whirring steel shrieked with the agony of the Damned as it shoved a drill deep into the ground’s unmentionables, searching for fresh hellfire. A stream of numbers scrolled up a computer screen, unwatched.

The door to the FEMA-surplus trailer slammed open and Jed stalked in, his three creatine-bloated arms streaked with scars. He huffed like a steam engine. “What’s this poo poo about gas in the mud?”

Phil flicked his cigarette at the computer. “That’s what it says. Might be a kick.”

Jed’s nostrils flared. “How long were you drilling topside, new kid?”

“Four—“

“I’ve been in ectics since before your daddy slipped into the wrong hole and made you, and I say we don’t got a problem.”

Through a window, Phil scanned the worksite. Half a dozen men swarmed around the rust-pocked drilling rig, hauling cables and feeding pipes to the beast. Horace stood surveying the chaos, fists on hips, feet planted as wide as the brim of his Stetson. Phil slid a window open.

“Yo, Ace? Jed says we gotta keep going even though there’s a kick.”

Horace turned, rolled his eyes, and trudged around the side of the trailer, tilting his hat down over a fresh scab on his forehead.

“You deaf?” Jed slammed a sausage-finger into Phil’s chest. “There ain’t no kick.”

The door rattled shut. “You sayin’ my measuring kit’s gone bad, Jed?” Horace hooked a thumb into his overalls and ran the other along the fat white scar on his cheek. “You sayin’ I don’t run a tight ship?”

Phil glanced at the interstate of rusted pipes and coughing motors surrounding the wellhead. “Maybe someone gave you bad gear, Ace. You want to be the first guy to blow out this field?”

“This is bull-hockey!” Jed punched the wall, denting it. “We got a kitten scared of its own shadow for a toolpusher, with poo poo tools to boot. Listen, whore-rear end, this problem, and there ain’t a problem aside from you wastes of meat, it’s all downhole, so it’s my call.”

Horace glowed neon red. “That so, Jed?” The two men began throwing obscenities in each other’s faces, their foreheads inches apart.

Hands shivering, Phil pushed a new smoke between his lips, flicked the lighter three times, and sucked hard. Aside from freeze-drying his nuts each night in his rusted-out hatchback, North Dakota had a lot on Hell.

The computer chirped. Phil poked the keyboard and ran an eye over the stats. Dead flat, the drill wasn’t moving at all. He glanced outside. Men dumped pipe after pipe down the borehole. poo poo! He smacked a reset button and numbers surged across the screen - pressure falling, gas rising.

He pushed the two spittle-flecked men apart. “Dudes, we seriously got a blow-out coming!” He hovered a hand over the keyboard. “Gonna hit the shear rams. Cool?”

Jed seized his wrist, threw him against the door. “Like Hell! Close annulars and dump mud, but you’re not cutting my string.”

“But—“

“Shut up, and get off my site.” The company man drew a finger across his neck. “You’re done. You wanted a break, you got it. Don’t show your face ‘round here until I say so.”

#

Rust-brown dirt crunched beneath the pickup’s wheels, kicking up dust. Phil rolled up his window. “I appreciate the ride, man.”

Horace swung the steering wheel around, gunned the engine. “My pleasure. That guy’s a dickhead and if he keeps pushing, he’ll get what’s coming.” He pointed at a herd of bobbing steel rigs, their heads rising and falling like grazing cattle. “See those? I did all of ‘em. Didn’t blow a one, don’t intend to start now.”

“But the kick—“

“Kill mud’ll keep it down just dandy, and Jed ain’t dumb enough to flood the entire field.”

Phil scratched his rash. “Dude needs to see a doc or something about that third arm.”

“You get used to that.” Horace rubbed the scar on his cheek. “A little bugger they’ll cut off for free, so long as it’s just a knife and novocaine. The bigger stuff costs. Besides, some of it’s useful. Heard a story ‘bout a guy who happened to get a second one, you know, down there? Talk about popular. My Sally keeps tellin’ me I should go find a gusher. Bet she just wants another little Ace to play with.” He winked.

Phil leaned his head against the cool glass, staring out at the blasted hellscape and tuning out Horace’s ramblings. He looked forward to a hot shower, a cold beer and a night camping out in the Mitsubishi shitbox he’d run into the ground back in ’92. Turns out cars didn't go to heaven after all.

The pickup’s engine burped, sputtered and died. Horace slammed on the dash. “Can you believe this?”

“You need a better mechanic, dude.”

“Naw, I do my own work, can’t trust anyone else with a beaut like this.” The toolpusher wiggled the keys, the engine hiccuped. “drat it all. Must be the dust.”

Outside, sand scoured the open land. Phil stepped out and stretched in the lee of the pickup. Not a cloud dotted the pink sky. A dark wisp of mist moaned around his boots. Tiny faces swirled in foggy eddies, contorted in eternal torment and his neck itched.

Phil jumped back into the pickup, slammed the door. “Ace, we got seepage.”

Screaming clouds of souls enwrapped the car, wails rattling the windows. Horace swore and yanked on the clutch, stomped on the pedals. The truck snarled alive and he spun the wheel, gunned it back towards the derrick. The mist chased them, screams blotting out the engine’s roar.

“I thought they were killing the well!” Phil shouted.

“They are, and usin’ too much pressure!”

They burned up the road, past the trailers. Horace yanked the handbrake, skidded the truck next to the churning rig, and shot a look at Phil. “Well, what’re you waitin’ for?”

“You’re not getting out?”

“In that stuff?” He laughed. “Don’t forget to shut the door.”

Phil dove from the truck towards the massive steel girdle beneath the derrick. Soulfog closed in, boils erupted on his skin and he grabbed a big wheel and heaved. Open, drat you! Three enormous hands joined his, and the two men threw themselves leftwards.

The wheel spun and the rig ejaculated an infernal black jet into the sky. Phil’s stomach clenched, tumors boiled his skin, a tiny hand erupted from his neck. Jed crumpled, clutching his head and shouting.

The wailing cloud dispersed and fresh puddles of ectoplasm sparkled in the daylight.

Jed lay on the ground, face buried in his hands. “drat it all. That one’s lost.”

“Saved the field, though.” Phil flicked his new limb. “How much to get one of these cut?”

Chuckling, Jed raised his head. Seven inches of tumescent vein-streaked flesh spurted from between his brows, a phallic unicorn’s horn. “Welcome to the team, kid.”

###

A/T Thread: BF&C subforum, here, my posts here and here. Also used this related A/T thread. And a fair amount of Wikipedia.

Sagittarius Stuff:
The Internet sez: Sagittarius is a Fire sign, ruled by Jupiter, lord of the Ninth House and governed by the Mutable aspect.

The Ninth House is the house of philosophy, understanding and spirituality. Spirituality combined with Fire? Hell. I drew character flaws from the Fire sign, where an overabundance is characterized by pride (Horace), greed (Jed) and wrath (also Jed). Too-strong an influence of Jupiter is associated with sloth, which I assigned to Phil, but it doesn't come through too well. As for the Mutable aspect, well, one of the devices is mutations.

There's no rhyme or reason to picking the oil industry or oil drilling as the backdrop. I just browsed A/T and it looked interesting.

Beezle Bug
Jun 5, 2009

I love painting trees.

Diamond Point - 1198 words

"I'm home," Patrick called, the crack of the door behind him punctuating his announcement. He hung his coat and walked to the living room, forced-casual, where he rested his hand against the door frame. Mitchell was sitting on the couch, his favorite chair and usual haunt empty, and he patted the seat next to him. Patrick slid in, home base, and gave Mitchell's cheek a gentle kiss.

"Happy birthday, handsome." He brushed Patrick's hair back and kissed his forehead. Mitchell reached behind his back and removed a small package wrapped in smooth black paper, all bold edges and sharp corners, tied with a slim silver bow.

"It never gets easier to unwrap these," Patrick said. Mitchell smiled and gave a modest shrug. Patrick tore aside the paper and lifted the lid beneath to reveal a rust-colored fountain pen with black ends and gold trim. Patrick's smile faded as he lifted it from its resting place. "A pen? I mean, not that I'm not grateful, it's really classy, but they're not exactly my thing."

"I know a pen doesn't seem very exciting, and frankly it isn't, but it is something better--it's satisfying. It'll pay off, trust me," Mitchell said. Patrick stared at Mitchell, who smiled at him. He looked back at the pen in his hands and sighed.

"I do. And I know you're just dying to tell me all about it."

"Guilty."

"Well, then, by all means," Patrick said. Mitchell scooted closer to him and placed an arm around his shoulder. He leaned in towards the pen and poked at its tip.

"Now, this is what's called a wet noodle nib. It writes a fine to double broad line, which is rather thick, and it does this depending on how much pressure you apply. If you're careful you can get some really lovely writing out of a pen like this, it's very versatile, but on the other hand if you don't pay attention your writing is going to look horrible."

"Sink or swim?"

"You can handle it. Don't even try the damsel in distress act," Mitchell said. Patrick held his hands up and laughed.

"You know me," he said. He leaned his head against Mitchell's shoulder and stroked the pen with his fingertip. "It looks nice. Old."

"Yeah, it's a Diamond Point pen, from the 1920s. They don't make wet noodle nibs anymore so I had to dig a bit to find one. It looked like it fit your taste."

"It does. I wonder who it belonged to. You know, like if we had anything else in common."

"It's had a while to belong to a few people, and even then I doubt it. People like you don't come along very often," Mitchell said. Patrick rolled his eyes and bit down on his lip in a futile attempt to suppress a beaming grin.

"Please, if you get me going then you'll never hear the end of it and then I'll never get to hear about this wet diamond pen."

"God forbid," Mitchell said. "And besides, if you look in the box there's still something left."

Patrick's eyes brightened and his hands dove into the box, parting the tissue paper inside to hunt for anything he may have missed. His search turned up two small bottles of ink.

"Now, that's two ounces of Heart of Darkness, it's a beautiful ink, very striking, but you absolutely can't spill it on your clothes, it'll ruin them. Much like with the pen itself, you'll really have to be meticulous or it's not going to work well for you, but--"

"But it'll really pay off, right?" Patrick said. Mitchell's brow furrowed and he began to speak but Patrick held up his hand, cutting him off. "Listen, I'm guessing you mean well, but it's starting to look like you're using a birthday present to criticize me."

"You've been talking about how you wish you had more focus and I think this would help."

"Which is sweet, really, except I haven't actually said that all that much and you're doing it by buying me something I get the sense that you'd want for yourself."

"Oh, no, not at all--I'm really very happy with my pens and this one isn't much to my taste."

"Smartass," Patrick sniffed and looked down, another failed attempt to mask a grin. "You know what I mean."

"I do, and think about it--if you pick this up there's nearly no limit to the ink colors you could use. Hell, they even make highlighter ink and I can only imagine what you'd do with that."

"Highlight?"

"Please, don't sell yourself short. We both know you'd be satisfied with highlighting for five minutes at the most before you started experimenting and found some unholy new application."

"Assuming I didn't get distracted and flutter off to something newer and shinier."

"I would hope that's not your approach to everything," Mitchell said. He drew back and examined Patrick with an exageratted scowl.

"Oh, Mitch, of course not!" Patrick waved his hands as if to dispel the notion. "I mean, I know you're kidding, but really."

"I just think you undersell yourself, Pat, and if you just found a way to focus you'd be a lot happier."

"Easier said than done," Patrick said, twisting the pen between his fingers. Mitchell took Patrick's hands, bringing the nervous motion to a halt, and brought them to his lips.

"I'm here for you, and I'm trying to find ways to help," he said. His eyes searched Patrick's as he stroked the back of his partner's hand with his thumb. "I think you'll like this, and besides, I'm sure it would help with your art if you learned to work with a bit more precision."

"You make it sound so fun, but I can't help but feel like there's some kind of trick involved. You know, you get my guard down, get me all into it, and then surprise! Suddenly I'm boring and you're getting me spreadsheets for my birthday."

"Spreadsheets?"

"Oh, I don't know, I couldn't think of anything else that was really dull."

"Listen, I honestly do think that you have a lot of potential. You just need to learn how to hold it together a little better, and I think the best way to learn that is to make it fun and make it challenging. I think this could be what you need, if you'd give it a chance."

"Maybe you should give me a crash course sometime, then," Patrick said. Mitchell stood up and held out his hands. Patrick tucked the pen into his pocket and Mitchell pulled him to his feet.

"Sometime? Hardly. There's nothing I'd like more than to start right now, if you're up for it," Mitchell said.

"Sounds perfect."

"Great. Meet me in my study," Mitchell said. He gave his partner a quick peck on the cheek and hurried for his office.

Patrick sighed and traced the outline of the pen through his pocket. From down the hallway clattering noise rang out from Mitchell's study, drawers snapping open and slamming shut as he searched for the perfect paper. Patrick shook his head, smiling as he patted his pocket and followed Mitchell inside.


--

Subjects were Gemini and fountain pens, which I researched here and got a decent amount out of the OP itself, and also posted here and here for some more info.

STONE OF MADNESS
Dec 28, 2012

PVTREFACTIO


twinkle cave posted:

THUNDERCRIT - LET THE BLOOD FLOW!!!!

No other means of saying 'thanks', so Thanks! Food for thought in there.

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

Two hours left to go. Ten stories yet to be submitted.

Jeza
Feb 13, 2011

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


http://forums.somethingawful.com/sh...0&pagenumber=37 - A/T research about diving.



Welp, took on a stupidly large idea for my prompt so I wrote about double. On the bright side, might turn it into a little short story. This intro has some pretty relevant contextual details, without which I guess you'll be a little lost in my entry.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/...dit?usp=sharing

Aquarius, somewhat weirdly, is under the element of air. I wanted to write something that combined both water and air, hence diving looked pretty much made for the role. CCR = Closed Circuit Rebreather, Heliox = Air-mix of Helium and Oxygen used for deep dives - can result in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_P...rvous_Syndrome.

Might actually combine the whole lot and write a more satisfying conclusion. Anyway, less 3AM waffle more entry.



The Water-Bearers - Word Count: 1242

Ingvar drew in a deep breath and let himself fall backwards. He connected with a muffled splash. Wet fingers rushed to smooth over any part of his wetsuit that wasn't already clasped onto him. The dregs of the Gulf Stream hardly reached Fjallabyggð so it was cold, but he was used it. He regularly dived in worse.

“Testing, One...two...three, over.”

Mike's voice came in fuzzy through his mask.

“Loud and clear, Mike. Over.”

Visibility was poor, but he couldn't miss the vast black silhouette of the launch pipe. It plumbed down until it blended into the darkness below. The morning sun scraped in from the shallow arctic sunrise. The rays barely penetrated; Costa del Sol this was not. Ingvar made powerful sweeps of his flippers and propelled himself forward toward the pipe. He flipped the switch on the flashlight he was carrying. Its full glare caught all the plankton in the water like a laser through smoke. The beam picked out details on the pipe, little growths of kelp and small clusters of barnacles.

“Beginning descent. Over.”

“Got it,” Mike replied “keep your eyes peeled. Over.”

“Will do, over.”

Ingvar had always seen deep dives like one of those paint colour charts, the sort of thing children goggled at in Ikea. Royal Blue, melding on Prussian Blue, gliding past Navy and onto Midnight. It could be quite beautiful, but there wasn't much to sightsee. It was even a little dull. Mike was a button-press away but he didn't go for small talk, especially not on Heliox. He had heard his recordings of his voice on the de-scrambler and although the others found it hilarious, he didn't see the funny side. His deep, controlled breathing was the only accompaniment – that and the silver flashes of curious fish on the edges of his vision.

It made a nice chance to swim down without painstakingly checking the pipe though. He checked his wrist dive computer. 194ft. Almost halfway. He moved the torch away from the pipe and shone it down, where it was quickly swallowed by the inky water. Then he saw something.

It isn't possible to flounder underwater, not properly, but Ingvar gave it a drat good try.

“What the gently caress is that?”

“Ing?” Mike's voice appeared in his ear, flushed with concern.

Across the pipe, something was written. Not words, but two jagged lines. It was a huge scrawl, a piece of luminescent graffiti. His torch had been hiding it in its glare. Ingvar swallowed unconsciously.

“Somebody's been down here, Mike. They've scrawled the pipe in some glowing paint, I don't know. Looks like some kind of weird hieroglyphic...”

His 'over' trailed off. Ingvar floated, transfixed. His heart was beating hard.

“Do I abort Mike? Over.”

There was silence.

“...uh, that's a negative, Ing. I am on the line with UNSA right now, they're saying you have to get down there. They are going to need non-contaminated water up there as an urgent priority. You have to get down there, over.”

That was the answer Ingvar had been afraid of.

He tarried for a moment before kicking off once more. He left behind the alien markings and swam deeper. What would be waiting for him down there? A bunch of lunatic eco-terrorists perhaps. Some chthonic horror that had been awoken by man's hubris even. Behind his perspex window he sweated, the cold forgotten. He felt almost hyperaware, as if he could feel the blood sucking through his veins like straws. The pressure pressed on his heart and lungs like stress-balls.

The distance dropped away horrifyingly quickly on the dive comp, his programmed depth rushing up to meet him. And he was already there. Sticking up from the rocks like a basalt boulder was the facility, tacked onto the humongous launchpipe like an afterthought. He had never set foot inside, though he had seen it many times from the outside. He closed the distance and slipped under the pouting metal lip jutting from its side. He moved up into the moon pool and breached. It was a chamber, lit by dim wall lights. He bobbed up and down, hesitating, before drawing himself up a little ladder inset into a wall.

He beached on the metal jutty like a seal. He cut the flow on his CCR and took the mask off, shedding equipment in a hurry. He was shaking more than he should be, even scared. He had come down too fast. He took the earpiece and put it in.

“Mike, can you hear me Mike? Over.”

Ingvar hoped the shakes weren't too evident in his voice.

Mike's voice came through a veil of static “...yeah, barely...you OK?...you sound a little off. Over.”

“Yeah, yeah. I'm fine. Just came down a little too fast, is all. Where do I go now? What do I have to do? Over.”

“OK Ing, listen carefully. The guys at UNSA I mentioned? They're telling me the interference will get pretty bad near the control room, so I gotta tell you what you need to do when you get there. Don't worry its a piece of cake. They don't want you to worry about anything else, you just have to do a hard reset. Look for a big yellow console and flip all the switches, then back again. Just like any regular fuse box. Easy. Over.”

“Yeah,” Ingvar bit his lip “OK, I got it Mike. Thanks, over.”

“Good luck. Over.” The channel went dead.

Ingvar shook himself to get a grip. He felt a little queasy, his vision a little fuzzy round the edges. He set off, dripping all the way. Using the wall for support every so often, he follow the signs to 'Control Room'. The air got warmer every step closer he took. It wasn't far to walk.

Weak-muscled, it took him a couple of tugs to fully turn the hatch handle. The door swung open weightily and he loped in.

The room was stifling and he was hit with a wall of hot, stale air. Ingvar hardly noticed. Head pounding, he stared. Every surface in the room was covered in luminous scribblings. Those jagged lines were everywhere. It was like a madman's asylum cell. He felt ill. He began to hyperventilate. Shadows lurched out at him with phantom knives and dissipated as he jerked his eyes to meet them.

He fought his way past the phantasms to the rows of consoles and looked around wild-eyed and desperate. Displays flashed at him with maddening red lights. Chemical symbols leered out at him from screens everywhere, ancient chemistry lessons taunting him from the back of his memory.

There! He nearly fell upon his knees from relief as he got the yellow console. He slammed down all the switches in a panic and whacked them all up again. Nothing happened. All he could hear was the hum of the computers and the hiss of the ventilation. He did it again.

He babbled into his mic. “Mike! Mike! Nothing's happened, nothing's changing. Mike? Mike. I think I gotta go Mike, I don't feel so good. I think maybe the air mix in here is messed up I think-”

He retched, clutched his stomach, then threw up.

He spluttered. He heard the fans in the room begin to whir even louder, deafening.

“Mike?” he whispered.

But there was only static.

V for Vegas
Aug 31, 2004

THUNDERDOME LOSER

The Sons of Saranya - 980


‘Have you been practising Viswanathan?’

Even now, all these years later, the clipped English tone of that phrase from his old guru made Vishy’s fingers twitch involuntarily. The memory of the long, thin cane that he could see still hanging on the wall would never leave him.

‘I have guru,’ he replied.

‘Hmmph,’ snorted the old man. ‘Chasing girls and watching films I bet. Why have you stopped your lessons? You need them you know, you don't have the skills of your brother. He was always better than you.’

Vishy took a deep breath. ‘I know, but I have one more piece to play for you,’ he said.

He adjusted the sitar on his lap and closed his eyes. His fingers gliding over the strings as the slow notes of the Alap began to form in the air. The long chords thrummed in the humid, Chennai air. The music was unfocused and meandering like a young boy’s mind; ready to take an imprint of its surrounds. Slowly, haphazardly, the notes that would form a life exposed themselves. A soft, harmonic strum followed by a strong, atonal clash.

A birthday party in the slums. One boy runs along the twisting alleys with a large wrapped present held aloft in his arms, followed by a horde of other small children, yelling and shouting. They are watched by another boy, sitting quietly on the steps. The boy with the present comes to a stop before the boy on the steps. ‘Here Shivnath, open this with me.’ The quiet boy, Shivnath, looks into his own face, mirrored before him. ‘It is our present Anand’ he says. They tear away the paper, worth a week’s wages, to see the object within.

It is a sitar.


Imperceptibly the rhythm of the Alap began a metamorphosis into the Jhala, as the rhythm of the music, the rhythm of life formed the piece. Vishy began strumming on the chikari strings, squeezing beat patterns between notes. The notes now began to form into their asthais, the melodic lines of the piece. From the low, harmonic notes of the Alap, the primary asthai pattern was found. Its notes flowed from the sitar in languid, thoughtful phrases like footsteps in controlled, measured paces. In counterpoint came the opposing antara melody, its strident atonal clash disrupting the flow of the asthai. The two lines becoming lost then found then lost again and found again.

A concert hall in Chennai. On stage, two young men take turns performing on their sitars with the backing of an old guru tabla player. Both born under the same star, their fundamental opposition would mock any astrologer. Anand in bright red, he strikes up playing strong, complex ragas. The music radiating out and repeating in on itself in fugues and innovations. Shivnath dressed in black, methodically and implacably works through the melakarta ragas. Delving deeply into the traditional forms and melodies.

The Gat’s main melodic lines, conceived in the Alap and grown in the Jhala, were now clear. The merging of the two opposing strains, working together to produce something new, something unheard. The rote compositions from early years of unending practice had become embellished with improvised flourishes and divergences. It was a line of clear melody running through New York, Vienna, Shanghai as it twined around itself.

‘We’re the kings of the world Shivnath, don’t you see? Don’t you see how far we have come?‘

‘The great Viswanathans? Really Anand?’ mocked Shivnath. ‘This is not why we play. This is not what the music is about. I told you I have finished playing. I will not go to Dehli.’

‘One last show Shiva. I promise. I have been working on a great piece. This is the one I have sacrificed everything for.’

‘Sacrifice? You were never serious about this Anny. This was all a game to you.’

‘A game? Do you think I married that bitch for a laugh? I needed to get in the family so her grandfather would teach me his secret compositions.’

‘Whatever Anny, I am done.’

‘Please Shiva, one last show, and then I can.’

‘I can what?’

‘Please Shiva, come to Dehli. I will never ask anything of you again.’


Vishy had now reached the Drut, and the tempo had increased. His fingers hummed over the strings. The order imposed on chaos by the music began to fall apart, the melodies burst free of the constraints of their rhythms as the rhythms themselves blurred into each other. The order of the universe is only that which swirls briefly out of the chaos, before chaos returns again.

The wind blew in through the broken window pane. He looked down onto his brother’s face, pale now from the lack of blood. On the bed lay their old sitar, warped by time and the humidity that their small shack could never protect it from. It was a wonder they had ever been able to learn to play it at all. Picking it up, he plucked an out of tune note. ‘You were always ahead of me,’ he said. ‘You saw what I saw. But you had to go first, as always, to show me what do to.’ He put down the sitar and gently closed his brother’s unseeing eyes.

The last note faded into the air. Vishy looked up and saw the sun hanging low on the horizon. How long had he been playing? How many years had this piece taken to play? How many lifetimes? He sat the sitar on the floor and looked at his guru, the one audience member for the greatest performance of his life.

‘You have been practising Viswanathan,’ the guru smiled. ‘I have nothing left to teach you.’

Vishy stood up, pressed his hands together and bowed. ‘Thank you guru. I have nothing left to play.’ Leaving the sitar behind on the floor, Anand turned and walked out of the house.


Virgo / A/T

Benagain
Oct 10, 2007

Student of the principle art of posting

Fun Shoe

I'm shaming myself and dropping out at the last minute. I'd give reasons, but excuses don't matter in the thunderdome.

dreadmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk

The last night
768 words
Research.

“I can feel the stars,” said Jennifer. I nodded, took another draw on the joint. As I held the smoke in, I glanced at her. Her pale face was barely visible on the glow from the fire. I blew out a stream of smoke, admired it as it coiled in the night air.

“Feel… emotionally. So you, uh, empathise with their plight,” suggested Derek from the other side of the fire. “You’d donate if they did a street appeal?”

“No,” said Jennifer. “Feel feel. Like on my skin. It’s not magic, light has pressure. You know,” she paused, took a drink from the rum bottle that Derek passed her. “You go out on a beautiful day, feel the sun on your skin? It’s like that but… colder.”

I frowned. “Light doesn’t have pressure. It’s… whatchamacallit. Massless.”

Jennifer extracted a hand from within her duvet to wave airily, tucked it back in against the late-night Nelson chill. “I don’t know the details. I can just feel the light on my skin. Little tingly prickles.”

“Huh,” I said. “They have ointments for that, don’t they?”

There was silence for a moment. Derek cleared his throat.

“Why do you … was there a reason you revealed this to us now, Jennifer,” he asked. His Scots accent had even more of a wry curl to it than usual, he was keeping his options open in case this was a long build-up for a joke.

Jennifer shrugged, a little mounding of her enshrouded shoulders. “Because the stars say the world’s going to end. It’s been a fun tramp, we’re going home tomorrow, I thought you needed to know.”

There was another silence. I stared at the fire, running over the conversation in my head and trying to work out if there had been any warning signs it was going to go hard left into weirdsville. Survey complete, and nothing to show for it, I glanced at Jennifer again. She was still staring at the fire with a half smile. I could tell Derek was looking at me. I didn’t meet his eyes.

“What do you mean, Jennifer,” I asked.

“It’s like braille. You know, the blind script? The stars have a language,” she said. She laughed, a nice normal laugh that made the skin down my back crawl. “Took me ages to get it. It’s very faint. Very, very faint. You need to be so calm, so balanced to feel it. But then you do and it’s.. beautiful. Transcendant.”

Derek shook his head. “Jennifer,” he said. “You know this sounds… odd. Don’t you.” Jennifer nodded. “I didn’t believe it at first. But they’re very convincing. And, y’know, end of the world. Anyway, I’m turning in. See you in the morning boys.” She stood up, looking like a floral Teletubby in her quilt, smiled at both of us and went off to her little tent.

I looked at Derek and opened my mouth to emit some isomer of ‘What the gently caress’ but he shook his head, mouthed ‘tomorrow’. “Well,” he said out loud, “that might be it for me too. See you in the morning.”

Twelve hours later we were on the boat home, open sea, packs and tents tucked into the storage. I was looking at the waves. Derek came and leaned on the gunwales beside me.

“I had a chat. It’s … it’s weird, she’s fine, she just has this conviction. Fatalistic. Says it’s going to happen soon,” he said, not looking at me.

I patted him on the shoulder, gave it a squeeze. “Man. I’ll … I’ve got a friend at the hospital. When we get back I’ll give him a call. Maybe she could talk to someone? Or… meds, I guess?”

He nodded. “Yeah. Yeah, I’m sure they can… Yeah. Maybe when the time comes and goes and everything is fine she’ll be a bit less… we’ll see.”

I sighed, looked down at the water. Felt the boat rise beneath us. I looked around for a ship that might have put out a wake, saw the sea rise, and keep rising. As the sea mounded up into an impossible wall that towered over us. The crew were shouting, running. The boat heeled round to the left, tilted over in a doomed effort to outrun the wave.

I looked to my left and right, saw the wave going on forever in each direction, looked over my shoulder. Jennifer was there, her face serene. She raised her hand towards me, and then a green veil of water swept it all away.

dreadmojo fucked around with this message at Jul 25, 2013 around 12:20

swaziloo
Aug 29, 2012


With ten minutes remaining, I must admit defeat. This prompt has broken me. I've written over three thousand words, all of it sheer and utter garbage to which I will not subject you.

I accept the shame of failure and swear to produce a remarkable entry next week.

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

Right, like a piece being sheer and utter garbage has ever stopped anyone before.

If you want to toss it up anyway, I'll give you a truncated version of the crits I'm preparing for the combatants whose heads need not (yet) be downcast in shame.

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

Submissions for Week XXIX are now CLOSED.

I'll confer with the other judges to decide who among systran, twinkle cave, STONE OF MADNESS, CancerCakes, Erogenous Beef, Beezle Bug, Jeza, V for Vegas, and sebmojo will sit on the throne beside Martello and ESB next week. I've been working on crits and may have them ready tomorrow.

Benagain, toanoradian, budgieinspector, Purple Prince, Symptomless Coma, swaziloo, and Honey Badger have brought shame on the stars of their registry.

I was going to give you so many bonus points for introducing me to the astrology songs, budgieinspector! You don't even know.

Kaishai fucked around with this message at Feb 25, 2013 around 05:21

budgieinspector
Mar 24, 2006

According to my research,
these would appear to be
Budgerigars.



Ah, well. On painkillers, and I nodded off. Here's the thing, anyway:


Ram On (1,185 words)

Terri started squirming in her seat about an hour after they left Spokane. Now that they’d reached Glacier National Park, and now that Scott eased the Prius down Going-to-the-Sun Road at a cautious twenty-five miles per hour—unspoiled miles of green-skirted shale edifices against a perfect Bob Ross sky unfolding before them, and a sheer drop flanking them to the right—each shift came with a hiss of pain.

Scott glanced over. She stared out the window, gripping the iPod he’d given her for Christmas. He was usually content to let her control the music in the car—they’d met at an ‘80s club where she deejayed, and her collection was vast—but once the squirming began, her selections veered sharply from New Wave to her preferred style of aural junk food: boy bands. And now, yes, she was cuing up “MMMBop”.

“Babe. Not Hanson. Please.”

“Your snobbery has been duly noted. Now, if you don’t mind, I’m trying to Zen my way through excruciating back pain, and you’re harshing my mellow.”

“It’s insipid.”

“It’s cheerful. There’s a difference. The important thing, though, is that it lets me focus on something other than how much sitting in this car for four hours has killed my back. So, y’know—step off.”

#

The mountain lion lifted his tawny haunches from the sun-warmed shale and stretched. His stomach was telling him that the marmot he ate the day before was but a fond memory. He snuffed, ignoring the meaningless background of pine, glacier lily, and monkeyflower, instead fixating on the unmistakable musk which promised a long respite from hunger:

Near and upwind was a bighorn sheep.

#

“We could’ve flown,” said Scott. “We would’ve been in Minneapolis already.”

“Cookie-nose? Pumpkin-breath? Not now.”

“Honey-baby-doll? You’re miserable. I’m miserable that you’re miserable, and I’m miserable that we—I—still have two days’ more driving to go with you being miserable right there in the passenger seat, and I’m miserable knowing that you’re going to play Hanson and Backstreet Boys the entire time in order to try to be less miserable, when, if you hadn’t insisted on turning my meeting your parents into a road trip, we might be freshening up at the hotel, or getting coffee, or even—God forbid—loving like weasels all afternoon. But I’m supposed to not say anything about all that because?”


She looked at him for the first time in miles. Those liquid blue eyes that he adored when they were wide and bright, now narrowed and cooled—an engineer looking for the root of an irritating malfunction.

“Did you take your meds?” she asked.

“Yes, as a matter of fact, I did. Did you? Oh, right: You can’t afford medication, insurance, or even a single doctor’s visit with what you pull from deejaying. You’d rather go along, barely making rent because you’re too depressed to work, than lower yourself to being a corporate stooge like me. Wish I had the luxury of knowing that some corporate stooge would buy my groceries when I want to wallow in bed for a week.”

She paused the track between an “MMM” and its corresponding “Bop”, unplugged the auxiliary jack, and dropped the mp3 player into the Hello Kitty purse. She locked her hands on her thighs and took a deep, dramatic breath.

He hadn’t, in fact, taken his meds. But over the roil of rage and resentment percolating in his brain came a tiny voice, which suggested that maybe he should’ve shut up and endured the four minutes of adolescent chirping, rather than hear what she was about to say.

A gnarled, ugly chorus of hoarse and sneering voices drowned it out: Bring it, lady.

#

The ram stood over a scrubby patch of grass clinging to a wide ledge. It leaned forward, grazed up a mouthful, then chewed facing the wind. It neither scented nor heard the approaching mountain lion, stalking from a higher ledge, thirty yards away. The cat moved haltingly, sensitive to the slightest shift in the direction of the breeze, narrowing the distance by slow, deliberate inches.

#

“You ungrateful bastard,” she said. “I’m putting myself through this for you.”

She pointed out the windshield at the vista of stone and sky.

“I wanted,” she continued, “to show you this. I wanted to show you the America between the airports. When I booked our room here, you know what the website said? It said that, with global warming, there will be no glaciers in Glacier National Park in ten years. You would’ve spent your whole life in your cubicle, and never known that this was out there, or that it had gone. gently caress me for caring enough about you to try to do something about that.”

“No, no—whatever you’re doing, here, don’t try to make it about me. I don’t give two shits about nature, and you know it. These mountains and poo poo are fine on a postcard, but it ain’t worth the tsuris, honey.”

“It’s more than the mountains, you prick; it’s about the land, and the people, and all the things you write off when you talk about ‘the flyover states’. I’m from a flyover state. We’ve been back and forth between Seattle and New York twice in the last two years, flying right over my mother’s house—”

“This is because I don’t want to meet your folks?”

“You’ve blown it off three times!”

“More than you’ve blown me in the last six months—”

#

The cat pounced from above, jaws wide, massive paws outstretched. The ram turned at the sound of falling pebbles. It lunged forward, but not fast enough. Claws raked its flanks and caught. The ram stumbled as the mountain lion’s inertia forced it down. He tried to rise, kicking, thrashing backwards with his massive horns. The cat loosed and reached for the ram’s shoulders, pulled and struck. Clamped down on the back of his massive neck, and again, tearing flesh in search of the spine, and, finding it, bit down to sever, to kill. The ram screamed, his bladder let go, his legs kicked out one final time—

--And rolled off the edge.

#

“Stop the car!”

“Don’t be insane—”

“You make me wanna puke in your face—stop the goddamn car!”

She opened the door. The shoulder was only a few feet wide, but she seemed prepared to jump. Scott stopped the Prius. Terri grasped the doorframe and levered herself out of the seat, grunting with the pain of it, unable to stand up straight. She took a shuffling step forward, remembered her purse, turned back—

The bodies landed in the opposite lane with a meaty thud, twenty feet up the road. The ram’s left horn snapped off and went flying through the Prius’ windshield. They each raised their arms to protect their faces. When they lowered them, they found themselves staring at each other over the hooked horn, embedded in the passenger-side headrest.

Tears welled in Terri’s eyes. They accused Scott of petty cruelty and cheap sadism. He knew the truth of the allegation, and hated her for it.

#


Here's the A/T post. Had to learn about Glacier National Park, bighorn sheep, and the hunting behavior of mountain lions.


EDIT: Incidentally, given the word-count limit, this week's competitors might want to think about checking out the link to the Kenyon Review Short Fiction Contest that ESB posted a while ago. There's still a few days before deadline, and their limit is exactly 1,200 words.

budgieinspector fucked around with this message at Feb 25, 2013 around 06:44

Martello
Apr 29, 2012

by XyloJW


systran posted:

I am Virgo and went off this description, which is the first one I saw. I know nothing about astrological signs and noticed that descriptions of personality types vary wildly:
http://www.astrology.com.au/astrolo...diac/virgo.html

Here are my posts in the parenting forum of A/T. Parenting is specialized knowledge and I definitely don't know anything about it. http://forums.somethingawful.com/sh...2#post412688131
http://forums.somethingawful.com/sh...2#post412680098

Middleman - 1325 Words


Dirk had no patience for people who couldn’t motivate themselves. Dirk was a self-starter. How did Yanina think he had reached the highest level of middle-management at a BBB+ rated insurance company? Certainly not by leaving work at 4:59 pm. What message does it send to clients if they see the secretary, the face of the company, pack up her things and death stare the clock at ten ‘till five?

Dirk held an empty picture frame as he walked toward Yanina’s desk. Yanina had told Dirk that she couldn't stay late yesterday because of “family”. Dirk had family too, and so did many of Yanina’s co-workers, like Suresh. Dirk planned to give the spare picture frame to Yanina so that Yanina could give it to Suresh, who had just transferred-in from India. Or was it Pakistan? Either way, Suresh did not have any photos of his family on his desk. Were they even allowed to have personal photos on their desks in other countries? Dirk’s thoughtful gesture would make it clear that Suresh could indeed treat his cubicle as a personal space. It would be a rookie mistake to directly lecture Yanina and then separately give Suresh the picture frame.

After he gave Yanina the frame, she would think “I can’t believe I told Dirk I had to leave because of my family. He has a kid too and he's always arriving early and leaving late. Now he’s even thinking about Suresh’s family and trying to make the guy feel welcome.” This foresight and planning is what made Dirk a self-starter. This is how he reached the highest level of middle-management at a BBB+ rated insurance company.


This is pretty much all telling. Not a good way to start the story. Three paragraphs in and there's no on-page action yet.

On the drive home, Dirk struggled to purge Yanina’s transgressions from his thoughts. Here he was, leaving work forty-five minutes late, with the picture frame in his car because Yanina had already left well before 5:00. Dirk should not have been re-evaluating his strategy with Yanina—she had left at 4:43 this time—when he should have been thinking of his son. Dirk down-shifted as he approached a stop sign. This is literally the first action sentence. You need to front-load the action and sprinkle introspection and internal monologue SPARINGLY throughout.

“Shifting literal gears in my car, while attempting to shift metaphorical gears in my mind from work to family," Dirk whispered. "I need to re-purpose this idea into a business metaphor for this year's NASACT presentation,” Dirk mused, satisfied with the thought. A fan of said-bookisms, I see. Not good.

“Shifting Gears from Clients to Co-Workers: Navigating the Road of Middle Management,” he said to himself, just loud enough to hear over the radio.

Dirk was close to home now and still hadn't solidified how he would help Jayen with his backhand. The kid was fast, but his racket preparation was lagging behind his footwork. Dirk had succeeded in having Jayen hit up to five solid backhands in a row, but only when he served directly to Jayen and only when Jayen was mentally prepared to do a backhand. Maybe they needed to play some matches so Jayen could have more chances to use his backhand in a match?

Dirk came home as Jayen was saying something which Dirk could not hear over the sound of boiling water, a knife tapping on the cutting board, and the TV in the background.
This is almost a run-on. Cut it down to short sentences. Try something like this: "As Dirk walked inside, Jayen was saying something, but Dirk couldn't hear him. Water bubbled on the stove, a knife tapped on a cutting board, and the TV droned in the background." Dirk set his briefcase down and walked toward the kitchen.

Jayen intercepted him. "Dad! Look what I drew in class today. We had a paper that the teacher folded into three, then she said we can go with two of our friends so I went with Danny and Bret. Then--Dad look! See I drew the head it's like the bad guy from the book I am reading he has all this cool armor." Dirk glanced at the drawing and then up at his wife. She was making some kind of casserole. "Dad! You're not looking! So then the feet they are like Danny's Warcraft character. That's the game we play when I go over there. His mom lets him play it all the time and it's so cool."
For not being a parent, this is a pretty accurate depiction of an excited little kid talking about whatever seemingly insignificant thing they've been working on.

Dirk briefly cut considered the drawing: A man standing in a rigid pose, flexing both arms at perfect ninety degree angles. In each hand was a sword pointing almost straight up despite the width of the hands being parallel to the floor. Jayen's helmet was poorly rendered and really didn't measure up to the feet Danny had made, or even really to the uninspired pose Brett had put the torso into. Too many "reallys" The head was mostly just a grey mass with yellow spikes popping out everywhere. The eyes were red blobs. Jayen didn't need to waste his time with drawing; Tennis was his thing. Just cut this into two sentences "Nice Jayen. Cool stuff! I hope you're ready to work on that backhand, I know some of the ones you hit me with yesterday almost made me fall over trying to catch up to them".

"O,Oh okay. Can you do a drawing with me after? I can do the head again, then Mom can do the feet I guess. You should do the middle though because I don't think Bret is very good at drawing swords."

Dirk eyed the clock in the kitchen. If they finished eating by 7:30, Jayen would be able to get in a solid hour and a half of practice. Dirk calculated that Cut this, it's assumed that Dirk is doing the thinking. After a few more sessions like this, Jayen would stand a chance against that Chinese kid who shows up at the court on Saturdays. "Yeah, sure thing Jay. I'm going to go to change and we can talk more about your backhand during dinner."

They had arrived on the court shortly after 7:30 and had been playing matches for close to an hour. You use a lot of in general in your writing. You need to cut down on that. "They started playing around 7:30 and played for close to an hour." No successful backhands yet despite Dirk's encouragement.

Jayen served, "Love fifteen!" Dirk processed where the ball was going to arrive Wordy and not needed, just give us his actions. and darted a few steps right. Dirk nudged the ball back toward Jayen so that it would land several feet to Jayen's left, which would force him to backhand. The ball slowly passed over the net and Jayen still had not stepped at all to the left. The ball now seemed to be moving slightly closer to Jayen than Dirk's initial projection, but still quite a few feet to his left. At an excruciatingly late moment Jayen sprinted left and held the racket out with his right hand as if he were cooking a smore. He then flailed his wrist toward the ball. The ball hit the throat of the racket and bounced a few times on the ground near Jayen's feet. Jayen laughed, ran toward the ball which was rolling under the net, and said, "Nice return, Dad!"

"God drat it, Jay! You're not even trying to plan ahead," Dirk grunted as Jayen jumped over the net.

Jayen's face contorted and his shoulders tensed up. He slid the racket across the court. It screeched until it hit the fence. Dirk noted that Jayen had tossed the racket using a backhand motion. Tears. "I don't even want to play tennis! Bret and Danny's dads don't make them play tennis! You don't even let me play Warcraft or do any fun stuff. We always just are playing stupid tennis and none of my friends even think tennis is cool. Even Yangyang doesn't like to play; his mom is just crazy and I hate it." Jayen pushed his arms against his body so that his bunched fists flared out. He hunched his head over and scrunched up his eyebrows, trying not to cry more than he already had. Dirk came closer and Jayen backed up. Dirk tried to reason with him but was met only with "I don't care", "whatever", and "fine".

Dirk started a monologue on the drive home but gave up when Jayen refused to stop looking at the interior of the car, his gaze fixated an inch or so under the passenger side window pane.

The next morning, Dirk passed by Yanina's desk after saying good morning. He then went to Suresh's cubicle and gave the picture frame to Suresh himself.

You need to work on your craft and you really need to cut down on your . This probably wouldn't win anyway, but since it's 125 loving words over the wordcunt, it's disqualified right outta the gate. Just cutting the words I recommended removing would probably get you close to 1200. The method I use for trimming word count is pasting the story in Word and just going through it, clipping words and sentences where I realize they aren't needed, watching the word count at the bottom of the screen. You'd be surprised at how many words you can drop just by cutting a preposition here, an adverb there, and a boring introspection somewhere else.

And what's up with all the COOL NAMES? Dirk, Jayen, Yanina? Are these space people?

Martello fucked around with this message at Feb 25, 2013 around 17:22

Martello
Apr 29, 2012

by XyloJW


Noah posted:

Still waiting on that Brawl, Echo.

THUNDERDUEL: Echo Cian vs Noah

Prompt: Write a story that takes place this year, on this planet, with no fantastic or speculative elements, and no explicit genre elements at all. Mundane "lit-fic" is what I'm looking for here.

Include at least one male and one female character.

Wordcunt: 850 words

Deadline: 26 2000EST FEB 2013


Go.

angel opportunity
Sep 7, 2004

Total Eclipse of the Heart

Thanks for the review. Isn't Dirk held an empty picture frame as he walked toward Yanina’s desk technically the first on-page action? (though I take your criticism well and realize it probably doesn't make a huge difference either way.) On this week's prompt I will make cutting more words out my primary goal. I had noticed parents are naming their kids all kinds of ridiculous poo poo and most of them started with the letter "J". His name was kind of a joke.

angel opportunity fucked around with this message at Feb 25, 2013 around 17:39

CancerCakes
Jan 10, 2006

WORST WIZARD, THUNDERDOME
LOSER


Argh come on daddy needs his prompt.

V for Vegas
Aug 31, 2004

THUNDERDOME LOSER

CancerCakes posted:

Argh come on daddy needs his prompt.

A week in the life of a thunderdomer

Monday: Argh, I need a prompt.

Tuesday: Sweet, this is an awesome prompt. In.

Wednesday - Saturday.

Sunday: Argh gently caress I have to write this thing, what a stupid prompt.

Monday: Gimme a prompt already!

Martello
Apr 29, 2012

by XyloJW


V for Vegas posted:

A week in the life of a thunderdomer

Monday: Argh, I need a prompt.

Tuesday: Sweet, this is an awesome prompt. In.

Wednesday - Saturday.

Sunday: Argh gently caress I have to write this thing, what a stupid prompt.

Monday: Gimme a prompt already!

STONE OF MADNESS
Dec 28, 2012

PVTREFACTIO


systran posted:

I had noticed parents are naming their kids all kinds of ridiculous poo poo and most of them started with the letter "J". His name was kind of a joke.

To be fair it's pretty funny

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

Week XXIX Results: Per Ardua Ad Astra

To my surprise, I didn't loathe anything this week. Much. I'll have a lot to say about every entry, which you can all listen to or ignore according to your predilection, but for now, know the names of the honored and the disgraced:

WINNER: sebmojo, your delicate balance of story quality, prompt creativity, and use of research has won you another term upon the Thunderdome throne. Your horoscope says you will engage in a threesome with Erik Shawn-Bohner and Martello this week. Enjoy that!

Honorable mention goes to STONE OF MADNESS.

LOSER: systran, your piece held some promise toward its end. Your sign was a clear influence on your work. But rough writing has doomed you; your horoscope says that you will wear the face of a blond creature with 80s hair taking a weapon through the forehead.

Crits are coming soon, and this week's prompt sooner still.

Kaishai fucked around with this message at Feb 26, 2013 around 01:52

Erik Shawn-Bohner
Mar 21, 2010

by XyloJW


Thunderdome XXX: We're 30 / Time to get dirty / LET US gently caress

Dear Shitheads,

My fellow OGs and I have decided to bring you a special Thunderdome treat. The good news is that it's a sandwich. Better news is that it's a poo poo-sandwich scraped straight from the crack of a drunkard, and you get to eat it!

Genre: Magic Realism (No actual magic)
Setting: The modern world
Length: 1,500 words maximum
Sign-up Deadline: Feb 28th, 11:59 PM, US EST
Submission Deadline: March 2, 11:59 PM, US EST

Explanation by achewood.com courtesy of Horrible Butts: http://achewood.com/index.php?date=09262006

If you don't know what Magic Realism is, go loving Google it and read some examples. I still expect the majority of you to continue in the same patterns of abysmal failure followed by whinging, white-noise posts and rules lawyering. If you get the urge to do so, please don't clog the arteries of this fair beast with your indigestible donkey brays. If you have any questions about anything you want to ask Sebmojo, Martello, or me, please remember the words of the only character in Star Wars that didn't suck, Dr. Evazan: He doesn't like you. I don't like you either.

Shut up and write.

Adult Stars and Starlets:

STONE OF MADNESS (Fluffer #1)
systran (Pizza Delivery Guy)
Steriletom (Grandma on Couch)
Noah (Craft Services De-Hairer)
JuniperCake (Subway Flasher)
Horrible Butts (Fluffer's Fluffer)
Bad Seafood (Producer's Greasy 'Stache)
budgieinspector (Bangbus Custodian)
Chairchucker (Man Holding Goat)
Sittinghere (Condom Inspector)
toanoradian (Pool Boy #3)
Honey Badger (Smegma Sculptor)
Erogenous Beef (Leather Gimp)
Bishop (Stunt Cock)
Jeza (Hot Economics Teacher)
Purple Prince (Fake Jizz Tosser)
Capntastic (Ron Jeremy Impersonator)
aquavelva (Lube Specialist)
twinkle cave (Bashful Video Store Clerk)
Nubile Hillock (Rimjob Specialist)
swaziloo (Director of Brazilian Waxing)
monkeyboydc (Poo-Covered Girl)
BIG FLUFFY DOG (Token Italian Pornstar)
HaitianDivorce (Company Cocaine Mule)
Kaishai (Leather Daddy)
Bug Bill Murray (Shelley "No-Gag" Anderson)
Oxxidation (Anal Cinematographer)
Destrado (Girl With Retarded Sex Face)
SurreptitiousMuffin (Crying Game Participant)
Benagain (Fallacious Fellator)

Erik Shawn-Bohner fucked around with this message at Mar 1, 2013 around 18:35

STONE OF MADNESS
Dec 28, 2012

PVTREFACTIO


In. I hate this poo poo more than anything.



E:vv trying not to poo poo up the thread with 'thankyou' posts but thanks for the feedback Kaishai, that's exactly the kind of stuff I need to know (re. grammar, accursed semicolons etc). And yes you caught me abusing the prompt, fair and square.

ee: Christmas lunch missed after drunkenly passing out; Awakes at 2:21 pm; Shutting-up now

STONE OF MADNESS fucked around with this message at Feb 26, 2013 around 03:08

Martello
Apr 29, 2012

by XyloJW


STONE OF MADNESS posted:

In. I hate this poo poo more than anything.

Of course you are.

angel opportunity
Sep 7, 2004

Total Eclipse of the Heart

Did I lose primarily for exceeding the word limit or did I lose straight up as well? Either way I'm in again this week!

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

Critiques for Week XXIX: systran, twinkle cave, STONE OF MADNESS, and CancerCakes


The combination of prompt and requirement made this a challenging week. Some combatants rose to the occasion while others stumbled, but I didn't abjectly hate anything, rather to my own surprise. Several pieces suffered from ambiguity: an unclear setting or an unclear ending, always assuming it had an ending at all.

If I couldn't recognize your sign in your work immediately, I hit up Google and checked three or four astrology sites; if I still came up empty, I gave up. Nobody actually failed to hit the prompt altogether, but there are one or two where I wonder whether I missed a more subtle use. Feel free to tell me about it if I did. It wouldn't have changed the results in any case.

I'm splitting these into three posts, so if your crit isn't here, wait a bit and it'll turn up.


systran, "Middleman"

The strongest element of this story is how well it meets the prompt. That hyper-critical, over-analytic nature you gave Dirk is a classic Virgo stereotype. You did a pretty good job with the family relationship also; Jayen's position as a repressed son who loves Dirk but resents his demands is clear.

You fulfilled the A/T part of the requirement. Bonus point: I see signs of raaaan's answer to your questions in this story. Good show there.

The bad news for you is, I am a Virgo. You're on target with the hyper-critical thing!

You went over the word limit, and you could have avoided that by trimming the opening paragraphs. They're confusing anyway. I thought from the first paragraph that Dirk was watching Yanina give the clock the death stare, but then it turned out she wasn't there at all? Dirk's musings about Suresh and his heritage add nothing to the story but bloat, though Dirk's attitude toward the secretary does develop his character. That entire early section is also seen only through the lens of Dirk's thoughts; nothing actually happens. We're told and not shown everything we come to know about Yanina or Suresh. In contrast, Jayen's attitude toward Dirk is mostly shown, not told, and it's so much more compelling. Could you cut the first three paragraphs nearly wholesale and open with Dirk reflecting on his lazy secretary on his way home? I think you could, and I think you should.

Your grammar isn't too horrifying, but every error stands out all the more in a story about an analytical perfectionist. No perfectionist worth the name would think ''till,' dammit. That's not a word. (You wanted either ''til,' one L, or 'till,' no apostrophe.) Hyphens don't belong in the phrases 'just transferred in' or 'level of middle management.' In the third paragraph you say 'This foresight and planning is' and 'This is how he reached,' but the story is in the past tense. Etc. If you want to try selling this somewhere, find a line editor first. (That said, I've seen much, much worse. This wouldn't be hard to bring up to grammatical snuff.)

I don't hate this story, but it begs for condensing and polish.

TL;DR: Too long, bloated, sometimes confusing, and my Virgo soul shed a few tears. But your characterization is good, and when you show instead of tell, your story and relationships get interesting.

************

twinkle cave, "DOOM BOX"

Prompt: Met. Sagittarius is the sign of the wanderer, the philosopher on the road, and the crew's original dedication to parties is a philosophy of a kind.

Research: I see no link to an Ask/Tell thread. I made a brief effort to find an applicable one, then gave up. I'm kind of disappointed because I was hoping to read SA's answers to 'Tell me what would make for the world's most badassiest mobile dance party.'

You need a line editor too. You've got your tenses in a row, but the occasional missing hyphen or comma, the use of apostrophes in plurals, and the appearance of a semi-colon in a colon's place all add to the headache created by reading about a man named Fre$h Fr3dd^7. Although in a story like this it almost works for you. I get a similar headache when assaulted by my jerk neighbor's overzealous stereo! Yes, it's all coming together now.

(Seriously, you could tidy this up a bit, but the errors are small stuff.)

This has a Snow Crash feel, a similar mixture of nukes on wheels and irreverent bizarrity taken seriously at unexpected moments. I'm not saying you're Neal Stephenson (for better or worse), but there are worse works for a story to resemble. I don't like this sort of thing, and yet I eye it sideways as though maybe there's something good just on the edge of my vision.

The end isn't clear. The geek radicals leave Fre$h alone with the nuke-ette because Clydematic is sick? Or did Fre$h take them with him and they let him drown the bomb? Where and how do these people sleep, anyway? It took at least three read-throughs before I pieced the chain of events together, though that might be from the aforementioned headache.

The creative take on the prompt gets high points. The lack of Ask/Tell posts may disqualify you. I still kind of want to set Fr3dd^7 on fire. Which harks right back to Sagittarius, so another point for you.

TL;DR: My opinion doesn't matter much if you're not eligible! A shame, too. I dig your take on Sagittarius despite myself.

************

STONE OF MADNESS, "Starcrossed"

Glory Hallelujah, you can write. You don't have the technical/grammar side down completely cold; most of your semi-colon usage was correct, but I spotted three places you should have used a colon instead: before a list, before another list, and before a sentence fragment ('his phone'). 'Vodka bottle' and 'outdoor light' need no hyphens in their contexts. In general, though? Your prose flows smoothly, your images are evocative (drat you for that, given the bedbugs and cockroaches), Derek's emotions are convincing, and you stick the landing. I can imagine this being published somewhere.

I did wonder about having Christmas lunch on Christmas Eve. Not Christmas Eve lunch, then? But if that's the biggest question I have, you're doing fine.

On the other hand, there's the prompt. You've got the most direct references as yet to the Zodiac, and yeah, Derek's birthday makes him a Capricorn, but that's not the most creative way to use the sign. It counts; because your story was so good, I expected more anyway. Thus are you punished for not sucking.

Research: drat you so much for making me look at a thread about bedbugs. The direct influence of what you learned in A/T isn't obvious to me. Derek doesn't drink beer in the story, but weight and health aren't established as relevant to him. You only got one answer re: bedbugs; that gets a pass. I guess not many people hang out in the bedbug thread for some bizarre reason. I like that you mined two threads for info, but I'm not sure how well you met the 'significant role' requirement.

All the criteria for the week at least get a nod. This is a good story--I had to focus on technicalities to criticize it much at all.

TL;DR: Could have shown the work better regarding the research and been more creative with the prompt, but you've written something worth keeping. A reasonably strong contender.

************

CancerCakes, "Large Delta, Capricorn"

Hey, I hoped someone would use a star of their constellation somehow, and you've done it. Awesome. I like this interpretation. Did you know Delta Capricorni is a binary star system, or that Delta Capricorni A is possibly variable, weirdly fast, and rich in metallic content? I didn't until I looked it up, and now I've learned something. You get a point for the accurate distance in light years.

You nailed the research element: your visit to the space development thread shows in the story. I see the answer to your question regarding gamma rays in the crisis; that's a significant role. Well done.

Your imagery helped a worn SF trope or two (such as waking from cryogenic-or-whatever slumber) keep some interest. I'll be seeing the extruded ginger monstrosity in my nightmares, so thanks for that. I was reminded by the sense of helpless doom of Tom Godwin's "Cold Equations." Your prose isn't exactly elegant; it gets the job done, not much more, but considering how much information you worked in, it flows well enough.

I don't want to encourage you to drop any of the info, but the first half, which is all characters and description and interaction, has more life to it than everything after David says the line about the brake fuel. You could probably streamline the paragraphs that begin 'James and Sally looked at David' and 'James was working automatically'--the prose starts to make alarming clunking sounds in these.

Grammatically, you can join the line of those in need of a line editor. 'Upside-down teardrops' needs a hyphen (and 'teardrops' is one word); 'gently caress's sake' needs an apostrophe; you've got some commas where they shouldn't be; etc.

This probably won't be my favorite, but I like it.

TL;DR: Lots of research and a good use of the prompt win you points, though you still went over the limit. There's nothing grossly wrong. Maybe the story's a little infodumpy.

Kaishai fucked around with this message at Feb 26, 2013 around 07:36

Steriletom
May 11, 2009

My inability to write has angered the ghost of Thunderdome! Beware my example, lest you be haunted.


In.

Noah
May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch


In for week 30 and the Brawl.

JuniperCake
Jan 26, 2013


In.

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

systran posted:

Did I lose primarily for exceeding the word limit or did I lose straight up as well? Either way I'm in again this week!

You lost straight up. That story needed a lot of work. I admire your spirit, though!


STONE OF MADNESS posted:


E:vv trying not to poo poo up the thread with 'thankyou' posts but thanks for the feedback Kaishai, that's exactly the kind of stuff I need to know (re. grammar, accursed semicolons etc). And yes you caught me abusing the prompt, fair and square.

ee: Christmas lunch missed after drunkenly passing out; Awakes at 2:21 pm; Shutting-up now

You're very welcome. Get that story brushed up and send it somewhere. As for lunch, you're right--I missed that he was passed out that long. I imagined the story starting early in the day, which makes little sense in retrospect.

On to more crits!


Critiques for Week XXIX: Erogenous Beef, Beezle Bug, and Jeza


Erogenous Beef, "Under Pressure"

You know you put that song in my head every time I looked at your title, right? Just checking.

Your first line is a great opener--except let me suggest you never use the phrase 'a butt in his mouth' unless that's exactly what you mean. Hell of a mental image to have to overcome. On the plus side: 'stippled.'

On my first couple of reads, despite that line, I thought you'd written an alternate-Earth story in which oil drillers occasionally broke through to Hell a la Dwarf Fortress and let loose a gas made of souls that mutated them in horrible ways. But no: these men are in Hell already and drilling for literal hellfire. I don't like this premise as well. Hell being people doing their jobs, forever, isn't a bad concept, but what separates these three souls from the ones in the Soulfog? (Isn't that stuff made of souls? It spattered ectoplasm everywhere....)

The problem isn't that I preferred the other premise, though, it's that the premise you've got isn't clear enough. Some of that is my fault as a lazy reader. It's all right there in the first line, right? Yet your Hell is so much like the ordinary world that it's easy to forget Phil is dead and picture an Earthly worksite. The direct references to Hell are all phrases that could be metaphors, up until 'Screaming clouds of souls enwrapped the car.'

Prompt: Mutable, mutation. Clever. Turning Fire + Philosophy into a story of hell and souls is a nice and subtle take. Consider this obligation met with bonus creativity points.

Research: You've got this. Your research is obvious. And you show it without any infodumps of which to speak, which is excellent. My confusion doesn't apply to the oil rig stuff; I don't know why you'd dump mud, hit shear rams, or pull a string, or what annulars are, or what a kick means (though I've got a guess on that), but I can go with it because Jed's, Horace's, and Phil's emotions are where the story is.

Your prose isn't elegant either, but it shouldn't be for this piece. The character voices are good. There's a spot or two where a sentence is off ('Rust-brown dirt crunched beneath the pickup’s wheels, kicking up dust'--the dirt was kicking up dust? 'Phil slid a window open'--a different window than the one he stood at a couple of seconds ago? Probably not, so 'the window' would be better), and I'd probably set 'Open, drat you!' in italics if it's Phil's thought, but I don't see real problems here.

The muddled setting will probably keep this from being my choice for winner. Major kudos on the research, though. That stuff is great.

TL;DR: Best use of research yet and a creative interpretation of Sagittarius. If I'd had an easier time figuring out where it was set, I'd have enjoyed it more.

************

Beezle Bug, "Diamond Point"

I was going to hold how talky this is against you until I looked at a description of Gemini and had to laugh. They love to talk. Okay, that works, and I'm giving it to you whether it was intentional or not. You've got 'the Twins' as same-gender lovers; not bad. It's a less-obvious interpretation, and I see other ways in which you may have used the prompt but did it with a light hand if so.

But talky stories can come with problems, like weak setting and missing details. Is Patrick an artist? Mitchell mentions his art, but Patrick said a pen wasn't exactly his thing, which doesn't sound like a thing an artist or letterer would say. Digital artist, maybe? Sculptor? Does he practice another art entirely? I can't tell, and I want to know. The characterizing tidbits I picked up through all the talk weren't enough to make me care about these guys. Mitchell comes closer to being interesting.

Actually, I keep thinking every time I look at this story that it would have been a good shot at last week's prompt. The relationship between the men is the strongest aspect.

You've done your research and it shows in the work. I'm impressed you managed to fold a story around a fountain pen, and the specific model of pen plays a significant role in the story, as requested.

'Slam' or 'bang' would work better than 'crack' as a sound effect for a door; 'exaggerated' is the spelling you want. I can't find much to critique, though, on the sentence level.

The biggest problem the story has is that it's a character study of two nice but ordinary people having a conversation, so, unsurprisingly, it's not very compelling. Maybe Mitchell should explain the pen while demonstrating what it does. Maybe whatever the men wrote or drew while they talked could characterize them further? I don't know; that's what I'd try first. You need some kind of action, a conflict, more emotional depth, or something.

TL;DR: Too much dialogue and too little else leaves the characters too bland for me to care about. I do like what you did with the prompt and your research.

************

Jeza, "The Water-Bearers"

I'll be looking at/judging/critting the story sans intro first. What's here is interesting, though I'm afraid you might be right: having not read the intro yet, I have no idea what the hell was going on at the end. I'll go back when I'm done, read the intro too, and comment on how and whether it changes my perception.

First, you get a point for hypnotizing me with a giant spinning .gif. You lose it and more for going over the word limit even after cutting out the entire premise.

You wrote a story set in water, and that would be enough to count for the prompt. Mixing air into your plot is an excellent second touch. 'Water' for Aquarius isn't itself creative, but--air aside, even--giving your ocean story a Lovecraftian horror atmosphere, except with nukes? (Maybe?) I didn't expect that. Full points here, maybe with a bonus point or two.

I wish I could give the posters in the diving thread points, because they were all kinds of talkative and helpful. (Note to Bishop, should s/he be reading: I might not have noticed if you hadn't said anything in the thread.) You've worked terminology they shared with you into the piece. Diving is central to the whole thing. You're even with Erogenous Beef in terms of digging into your subject and sharing it with the rest of the 'dome. Excellent!

But--and you knew this was coming--what happens in this?

What I think I get: Ingvar is a diver in Iceland, working around launch pipes that I'm thinking have something to do with missiles. He's working with a guy named Mike to get uncontaminated water to an organization called UNSA. He dives down beside the pipe and comes across strange symbols--oh, hey, two jagged lines. The Aquarius symbol? That's awesome. Anyway, he keeps swimming and goes down too fast. He reaches and enters a facility; he's getting the nervous shakes from the stuff in his tank. He finds the lab covered in those maybe-Aquarius symbols and, reasonably enough, has a fit of the screaming meemies and ends up attempting the hard reset twice, which I suspect he should not have done. Then Mike is dead?

What I don't get: What is he resetting? Why would it result in uncontaminated water? Did he not do it right the first time, did he screw up doing it twice, or both, and did he screw Mike and others over or is he only lost in his panic fog?

I want to understand this ending. I'm psyched about the atmosphere you've created, which is gorgeous with suspense. It does feel like reading Lovecraft in that way. I'm even pretty sure the answer to the mystery isn't going to be a naked pink lobster from beyond the stars, a plus in my book. I still can't follow the story through its climax, and I don't think that's entirely on me.

Your grammar is sometimes rough, though that's a secondary concern. Hyphens are missing. Commas are missing. Apostrophes are missing. Get thee to a line editor alongside everybody else.

Without reading the intro, I'd say this is a story you should keep and work on. The atmosphere is so very effective. Just clarify some, dammit. There's 'mysterious' and then there's 'WTF.'

TL;DR: This doesn't make enough sense to get near the win, despite being one of the more compelling stories this week. Prompt, check; research, check; mesmerizing .gif, check.

All right, now I'm going to check out the intro and see how hilariously wrong I've been.

...Aquarius rockets shooting water into outer space. I love that. Well, that explains the long-as-hell launch pipe. Water from the facility poisoning people is great.

The shift from deep-sea/possibly nuclear horror to sci-fi with a deep-sea horror twist is a significant change in perception, and... this may sound weird, but despite enjoying the rocket concept, I almost prefer the version without the intro. The intro provides context, but the context changes the atmosphere. And I'm still not sure what happened. Did whoever painted the glyphs poison the water? What would the hard reset do? When you work more on this story--and you really should--I hope you answer those questions. I'd like to read it, if you do.

Kaishai fucked around with this message at Feb 26, 2013 around 04:22

Horrible Butts
May 7, 2012


In in in.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


Doing a thing on a wing.

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

Critiques for Week XXIX: V for Vegas, sebmojo, and budgieinspector


V for Vegas, "The Sons of Saranya"

You need more commas. 'Have you been practicing Viswanathan?' and 'I have guru' don't have the same meanings as 'Have you been practicing, Viswanathan?' and 'I have, guru.' I started the story expecting Viswanathan to be some sort of health or religious practice. Only for a second, but your first line isn't where you want that kind of confusion.

Research: Your research is clear, and the subject you chose is at the heart of your story. No problems there. I thought you did a fairly good job of introducing unfamiliar (to me) musical terms and describing them just well enough that my brain could imagine a song.

Prompt: You reference astrology in general, but the interpretation of Virgo isn't as clear. The sign might be present in the perfectionism the brothers show toward their music or the song's moment of order from chaos. I'll assume that's it and call the prompt met; I'm curious whether I missed something else. You've got a far stronger Gemini theme going with the twins in perfect opposition to each other.

This is the first story I feel the grammar errors really hurt. A lot of the ambiguous feeling it has may be the fault of ill-structured sentences. 'His fingers gliding over the strings as the slow notes of the Alap began to form in the air' is a fragment, for instance; the verb form should be 'glided.' In the sentence 'Shivnath dressed in black, methodically and implacably works through the melakarta ragas,' the descriptive clause should be separated: 'Shivnath, dressed in black, methodically and implacably' etc. And so on.

Anyone who takes his time and reads closely will probably understand what you mean in all of these instances. Someone who's reading it after hours spent critting Thunderdome pieces might stumble often enough that she would lose the storyline and think Anand killed Shivnath in Delhi. Hypothetically speaking.

Clean up the grammar and you may have a publishable piece here.

TL;DR: The research is solid, the tie to the prompt is more tenuous, and the grammar is killing you. A line edit may be all you need, but you need one badly.

************

sebmojo, "The last night"

Prompt: Jennifer is a balanced personality, sensitive to even the weight of light. That's a lovely, understated take on the Scales. You also made stars critical to the story in a way that brought astrology to mind without ever saying the word.

Research: You brought in radiation pressure and the masslessness of light, and those things are important to the narrative, so I'd say you met this.

You've written one of the strongest stories and finest balances of research and prompt. Which is fitting, I suppose. The stars speaking in celestial Braille is a beautiful concept, but your best phrase has to be 'emit some isomer of 'what the gently caress.''

You've polished it, too, for the most part--I think you missed a carriage return in the paragraph in which two people have dialogue, and 'As the sea mounded up into an impossible wall that towered over us' sticks out as an odd fragment (lose 'As' and it works). Braille should be capitalized. Still, I get the impression that you know what you're doing.

I have nothing to suggest to you beyond one more round of polish. Fine story. Fine work. Keep this one and try to sell it somewhere.

TL;DR: All the obligations have been met with elegance, and this piece is almost of final draft quality.

************

budgieinspector, "Ram On"

I'm irked with your painkillers. Your story might have gotten my vote to win, jokes about Harvey Sid Fisher aside. It's one of my favorites for its emotional intensity and the symbolism of the mountain lion and the ram.

You did your research, and I'm impressed you let the answers to your initial questions about the park shape the story the way they did.

You went an obvious route with the prompt, with the ram, but I looked around and found a list of negative personality traits for Aries: Moody, short-tempered, self-involved, impulsive, impatient--sounds like Scott to me. Was that intentional? I like how you used the ram even if it isn't, but if you layered your references, that's icing on the cake.

Scott telling Terri about her poverty and dependence (in the paragraph starting 'Yes, as a matter of fact, I did') verges on being a characterization infodump. It's the story's most graceless moment, though within the realm of the believable.

The intensity shown in the car and in the metaphorical mirror on the mountainside is the strongest element. It's so well done that the fight is uncomfortable to witness.

I can't criticize the grammar much. In the sentence containing '‘the flyover states’.' the period should be within the quote marks if you're using American English. 'Clamped down on the back of his massive neck, and again, tearing flesh in search of the spine, and, finding it, bit down to sever, to kill' is awkward to me; I'd prefer 'and did it again' in the second clause. A semi-colon after 'spine' wouldn't go amiss, though I think you might be using the commas this way intentionally to keep the feeling of an unrelenting attack.

Nothing else to say, really. It's a great piece. Send it out to editors sometime if you haven't already.

TL;DR: Painkillers: a blessing and a curse.


That's all she wrote. Thanks for your efforts, combatants.

Kaishai fucked around with this message at Feb 26, 2013 around 05:16

  • Locked thread
«150 »