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Walamor
Dec 31, 2006

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I'm in for my first thunderdome, the prompt seems awesome!

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Walamor
Dec 31, 2006

Fork 'em Devils!


Based loosely on 2 Samuel 11:2-28 - Text in the spoiler.

David remained in Jerusalem, and late one afternoon he was walking along the roof of the palace.
And from the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful.
David sent someone to inquire about the woman, and he was told, 'Isn't this Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?'
Then David sent messengers to fetch her.
She came to David.
And he had sex with her. This was just after she had her period.
Then she went home again. And the woman became pregnant.
She sent word to David, 'I am pregnant.'
So David wrote a letter to Joab, and in it he wrote, 'Put Uriah in the front where the fighting is fiercest, then withdraw so he will be struck down and killed.'
With the city under siege, Joab put Uriah at a place where he knew the strongest defenders were.
And when the men of the city came out to fight, some of David's men fell dead, and Uriah the Hittite died.
When Uriah's wife heard that her husband Uriah was dead, she mourned for her husband.
When the period of mourning was over, David had her brought to the palace and she became his wife.
And she bore him a son.
But what David had done was evil in the eyes of Yahweh.


What Must Be Done - 1359 Words

Connor’s hopes for a smooth run were dashed the moment the enemy cruiser flashed into existence and turned his destroyer escort into a ball of fire and debris with one volley.

Immediately Connor’s comm came alive with the chatter of confused pilots and requests for orders but High Command cut across them all. “Strike Leader, you are tasked to defend the carrier Claw and the marine transports until they recover craft returning from the strike against the enemy fortress.” Conner took a deep breath and opened a channel to his command. “All squadrons, we’re to keep the enemy away from the fleet during recovery operations. They’ll be done before the cruiser gets into range so we just need to keep enemy fighters away. Red, Yellow and Green squadrons, advance and engage the cruiser’s strike groups. Blue squadron, hang back and hit anything that gets through.”

Connor raced alongside Red squadron toward the enemy squadrons spilling from the cruiser’s hangers. Soon enemy fighters were within range and Connor’s squadrons tore into them as they struggled to organize, explosions blossoming as the two forces smashed together. Connor found it increasingly difficult to both effectively command his forces and still fly well, but this was his first time as Strike Leader and he would not see it end in failure. While trying to get a lock on a corkscrewing fighter, Connor noticed two enemy squadrons attempting to bypass the raging battle. Connor quickly ordered, “Green squadron, break off and hit those squadrons heading for the fleet!”

As Green Leader acknowledged the order, Blue Leader spoke up. “Strike Leader, this is Blue Leader, moving to engage enemy squadrons.”

Connor replied, “Negative Blue Leader, stay with the fleet.” However, Connor’s scanners showed Blue squadron moving away from the fleet. Conner again commanded “Blue Leader, break off your attack!” Time passed with no response and no course change. Connor was about to reiterate his order when High Command came through again. “Strike Leader, one enemy squadron survived from the fortress and is closing on the marine assault craft. All other fighters have been recovered. Intercept the enemy squadron.”

Connor looked at his scanner and cursed. Blue squadron would have to turn immediately to save the vulnerable craft. Connor desperately contacted Blue Leader again. “Blue Leader, turn back! Protect the marines!” Nothing. “drat you Bancroft! Respond!” By now it was too late and Connor could only watch as the enemy shredded the marine craft, killing hundreds of marines in seconds.

Connor screamed as his cockpit faded to black and “Mission Failure” flashed on his display. The now familiar pain of electrical shock hit him, punishment for all pilots who died in the simulator or failed the mission. Connor slammed his fist on the cockpit’s release and leaped out, already scanning the area for Bancroft.

“Lieutenant Frost!” bellowed Captain Matthews. Connor instinctively turned to Matthews, bracing for the worst. “Explain your failure!”

“Sir, it was Bancroft, he screwed up!” replied Connor.

“I do not recall assigning Strike Leader to Sergeant Bancroft, Frost!” said Matthews.

“No sir, but he failed to follow orders and was responsible for the destruction of the marines! It wasn’t my fault… my plan was going to work!” Connor explained. His hands were tightening into fists and he forced his hands to relax.

“Frost, you are responsible for your command and the entire mission. This was your failure. You are seventeen now and only have a year to correct your failings before you apply to the academy. I expect better, Frost, and so will the academy. Dismissed.” Matthews turned and walked away, leaving Connor standing red faced, hands clenched into fists.

Connor turned away and came face to face with Steven Bancroft. Steven blurted out, “I’m so sorry! My comm unit broke after I said I was going for the enemy squadrons. I swear Connor!”

“I don’t want to hear it, Bancroft!” Connor yelled. “Was your scanner broken also, or just your brain? Could you not see what was happening?”

“Well, no…” started Steven.

“Maybe if you could keep your simulator maintained you wouldn’t be such a failure! You know they use that stuff against us yet you never take care of your equipment! None of us will make it into the academy with you around!” said Connor.

“I’m sorry Connor, really. I’m not as good as you with mechanical stuff. It’s just so hard,” Steven said.

“No poo poo it’s hard Bancroft. But the rest of us can do it. You can’t. You aren’t good enough for this. You’re only a squadron commander because you’re a Bancroft. You’re only in this school because you’re a Bancroft! You’ll somehow go to the academy in two years and fail there also. You’re eventually going to get people killed but you’ll end up fine because of your daddy,” replied Connor.

By now the rest of the pilots had gathered in a silent circle. Steven looked around, tears in his eyes, searching for a friendly face and found nothing. He ran for the door, bursting through the crowd, leaving behind their silent judgment.

* * *

Before Connor knew it, it was time for the next training mission. He was given another chance and was assigned Strike Leader. He vowed not to waste the opportunity. Bancroft, unsurprisingly, was Blue Leader.

Connor fell into formation as the rest of his command was kicked out of the carrier’s launch tubes and High Command’s instructions soon came through. “Strike Leader, you are tasked to destroy three transport ships and their fighter escorts.” Connor looked at his readouts and noticed high energy levels in the rear transport, indicating strong defensive weaponry. This was his chance.

Connor issued orders, his voice strong and calm. “Green squadron, engage the forward transport. Yellow squadron, the middle transport is all yours. Blue squadron, Bancroft, you have the rear transport. Red squadron will engage enemy fighters.” After receiving acknowledgments, Connor issued orders to Red squadron. “Alright boys, follow me. Save the rear transport and her escorts for last.”

Connor led Red squadron, swinging around the developing brawl as Yellow, Green and Blue squadrons engaged their targets. He vaguely heard reports of initial success from Yellow and Green squadrons, but his attention was fixed on Blue squadron. Bancroft overcommitted to attacking the transport before probing its defenses and arrays of defensive cannons greeted the unprepared fighters. In the first seconds of the engagement Blue squadron lost nearly half of its strength. Connor saw Bancroft’s craft slip through the explosions but ended up with an enemy fighter tailing him. Bancroft evaded for a few seconds until the enemy landed a hit on his engine and the fighter went dark. It was too easy for the fighter to send a missile straight into Bancroft’s cockpit.

Connor only had a moment to savor Bancroft’s debris cloud before the overrides kicked in. Alarms blared as his cockpit automatically opened. He could see confusion on other pilots’ faces but Connor already knew where to look. He jumped down and raced towards Bancroft’s simulator. Medics were already there and they pulled down Bancroft’s limp body. Voices yelled urgently in an attempt to get Bancroft to respond. Connor could smell burned hair and cooked flesh.

Connor noticed Matthews nearby, walking away from Bancroft. “What happened sir?” asked Connor.

Matthews hesitated, then replied, “A surge in the shock unit. Never seen that before.”

“That’s a shame. Bancroft was saying he was having problems with maintenance. Must have fiddled with the wrong thing,” said Connor in a controlled voice. Matthews looked closely at him but said nothing before walking away. Connor noticed that Bancroft’s chest had stopped rising and that the machine hooked up to him was emitting a single tone.

Connor smiled. No rich boy playing war would ruin anybody’s chances of getting into the academy now. But Bancroft will be fine, in the end. People like him always were. They’ll fix him up and he’ll end up back home safe and sound. That’s where he should’ve been all along. Connor saw one of the medics go to his cart, pull out a body bag and bring it over to Bancroft’s unmoving body. Only then did Connor’s smile fade.

Walamor fucked around with this message at Jun 10, 2013 around 10:38

Walamor
Dec 31, 2006

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In.

"Those whom the gods love grow young."

Walamor
Dec 31, 2006

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My Wilde quote - "Those whom the gods love grow young."

The Price of the Favored - 1198 Words

Theo perched high above his target in the night, scanning the building’s grounds for any sign of a defense that he had not identified. The mansion was an older one within the walled part of the city, owned by a Favored family who had inherited it but was not blessed with enough riches to keep it modernized. Mere human guards and mechanical locks discouraged thieves, not complex sensors and invisible lasers. Theo grinned. It was time.

Theo swung down into the courtyard, specially padded shoes absorbing any noise that might have been made. He quickly ducked behind a row of hedges, using the Favored’s own garden to screen his movements. Theo made his way to the interior wall in moments, creeping silently towards latticework that reached up to a third floor window. Reaching his goal, Theo scampered up, the latticework emitting small groans of stress as his weight bore down on it. Theo was short and light for a 17 year old and he worried if there was a growth spurt yet to come that would prevent him from using things like this. A light and small body was a key for success in his profession.

Pushing his worries off, Theo jimmied the latch and gently pushed the window open. He slipped inside and scanned for the cabinet he had been told about. He found it pushed against a wall and, his heart pumping furiously, his fingers brushed the surface, tracing the carved birds until he found the correct bird and pushed, hearing the satisfying click of a lock disengaging. The top popped open, revealing his prizes glittering golden in the moonlight. Theo reached for the centerpiece of the collection, a magnificent necklace with a blue gem at its heart. He lifted it up to examine it in the light. The only warning he had was a soft ‘click’ as the necklace slid out of its place.

Alarms blared, terribly loud in the otherwise quiet night air, and Theo could hear the pounding of boots running down the hall. Theo’s instincts kicked in and he grabbed the rest of the jewelry and stuffed it into a small bag in one swift motion. He ran to the window and kicked it open as the door burst in and a very large guard charged into the room, his hands twisting as if he already had Theo’s neck in his grasp. Theo summed up his chances against the guard in one quick glance and promptly jumped out of the window, landing painfully but somehow staying on his feet. Guards were collapsing on him from all directions and Theo desperately wove his way through the courtyard garden. He was able to outrun his pursuit to the mansion wall where he had previously strung up an exit wire. Theo jumped onto his zip line and waved goodbye to the frustrated guards as he sped off into the safety of the shadows.


Later that night, Theo came to another mansion but this time went up to the front door and knocked loudly. A servant answered soon after, a grimace on his face. “Who is knocking at this hour? Oh, it’s you.”

“Yes, William, only me. Where is Sofia?” asked Theo.

“I’m sure she’s asleep, Theo. Come back at a normal time,” said William as he started to shut the door.

Theo’s foot stuck out, preventing the door from closing fully. “Really, William? Do we need to do this every time I come?” asked Theo as he craned his neck around, trying to look behind William. His face brightened and his heart leapt as he saw a wisp of silk appear on the upper level. “Sofia!”

Sofia swept down the stairs, a vision of beauty in a flowing white silk shift that left little to the imagination. “Theo, my darling!” she exclaimed. “William, let him in!”

Theo stepped past the subdued servant and staggered as Sofia flung herself into his arms, his knees buckling, still painful from jumping from the window earlier that night. Sofia felt Theo stumble slightly and asked, “Theo, what happened? Are you okay? Did you get me something?”

Theo grinned and said, “Sofia, I’m okay, really. I had to make a quick exit tonight, but yes, I brought you presents!”

Sofia took a step back from Theo, looking at him slightly askance. “What went wrong? Did they see you?”

“I didn’t see a pressure trap and I set off some alarms. Got chased a bit. But they have nothing on me!” Theo responded.

“So someone saw you?” questioned Sofia.

“Yeah, some guards saw me, but it was dark. It was fine, really. You don’t need to worry about me!”

Sofia made an unhappy sound at that but said with some of her previous excitement, “Well, I’m sure it will be alright. Let’s see what you brought for me!”

Theo pulled out his small bag and handed it over to Sofia. “I brought the most beautiful treasures I could find for my beautiful girl!”

Sofia smiled sweetly at him but her smile quickly dropped off as she pulled the necklace out of the bag. “It’s fake.” She let the necklace drop to the floor and reached into the bag, pulling out the other jewelry. “It’s all fake! You idiot!” Sofia yelled at Theo as she threw the bag at him.

Theo was dumbstruck. “I’m… I’m so sorry Sofia. I didn’t have time to check.” Theo took a deep breath. “I’ll find some other stuff for you tomorrow!”

“It’s too late for that, moron. I have a holy renewal tomorrow and I needed to sell these before then to pay the indulgence! You’ve ruined everything!” Sofia screamed at him.

“Wait, what?” questioned Theo. “You weren’t going to keep them? Do you keep any of the things I’ve ever given you?”

“Oh, grow up Theo. You knew what this was,” said Sofia.

“I thought I did, Sofia. I thought you loved the things I brought you. I thought we could have had… something,” said Theo, staring disbelievingly at Sofia.

Sofia laughed. “What, us? A Favored and a Lowtown thief? You poor, deluded boy. What did you think would happen, that you would grow old and watch us Favored stay renewed and young, but we’d be in love so it would end up being okay?” Again, she laughed, cruelly, and Theo flinched at the sound.

“You Favored all think you’re special just because the godship happened to land near your families hundreds of years ago and gave you the secret of renewal. But without us, without Lowtown, you don’t have anything! No goods to buy and nobody to lord over. Without me, you couldn’t even pay for your youth. You live in this aging mansion with nothing in your life. You’re not favored people who are blessed by the gods. You’re pathetic. Enjoy your life of misery.” Theo spat back.

Sofia’s face twisted with hate. “You arrogant little prick! I’ll show you who is pathetic! William!”

Theo had halfway turned when William brought down the heavy club on his head. As everything faded to black, he saw Sofia turn her back to him and curtly tell William to call the police and dump him outside.

Walamor fucked around with this message at Jun 17, 2013 around 01:34

Walamor
Dec 31, 2006

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I'm in! Thanks for the feedback, Seb.

Walamor
Dec 31, 2006

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Kaishai posted:

**********

Walamor, "The Price of the Favored"
Quote: "Those whom the gods love grow young."

Theo's heist sequence is a bit rough in a likely-to-get-better-with-practice way: the exposition's a little clumsy, and the actions don't flow as well as they could. It reads sort of like 'Theo did this. Theo did that. Then Theo did this, and that, and such, and Theo did this, and it's a run-on sentence.' Stress on sort of because it's not nearly that bad. You've varied your phrasing and rhythm. Theo and Sophia's conversation is better, the goddamned 'alright' aside. I believe these two as a couple of idiot, amoral kids.

But then... oy to the vey. Sofia and Theo explaining the Favored is awful. It's out of nowhere, this renewal thing, and it has nothing to do with the plot--if Sofia were a spoiled princess stringing Theo along for money, this scene could play out exactly the same. You bring the concept into the story with the grace of a mortal man trying to shot-put an anvil. It doesn't need to be there, which means the quote hasn't been folded into the story. There was nothing before this point to suggest a sci-fi setting, either. The abrupt change of genre is most disconcerting.

The death of the romance-that-never-was is suitably tragic, though. If that eleventh-hour infodump just weren't there... you wouldn't be my winner or close to it, but I'd probably like the piece.

One minor point: when you say 'Guards were collapsing on him from all directions,' a different verb would be better; maybe 'converging'?

To sum up: Your otherwise okay work is kneecapped by horrible exposition. The quote needed to influence your story, not to be shoehorned in at the last minute.

Thanks so much for this critique! I really need to work on planning my work out before I start because I had a decent idea (I think) for the prompt which then morphed into this piece without me realizing it. It originally was going to be a similar concept but he was still stealing but it was to save his mother, who had to get 'renewed' every day or her age would catch up to her and she'd die, and had a whole thing with the priests and was a bigger part of the plot blah blah blah nobody cares about this but I just wanted to say I appreciate you taking the time to critique my work! My apologies for the 'alright'.

Walamor
Dec 31, 2006

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I thought was going to be done with my weekend work assignment before now, but unfortunately I'm not and have some hours to go before I can finish. I won't waste the judges' time with a half edited submission. Sorry and good luck to everyone else!

Walamor
Dec 31, 2006

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Jeza posted:

Are you kidding, none of the cool cats have even thought about starting yet.



(im a cool cat btw)

I'm in the UK, so it's a bit later than in the US. If it was still 4:30 pm I'd probably have time to submit something. Alas, I'm not in the habit of staying up until 5 am anymore.

Walamor
Dec 31, 2006

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Fun prompt! I'm in with "The Whispering Statue"

Walamor
Dec 31, 2006

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The Whispering Statue - 1097 Words

Another wasted day, thought Dario, as he waited for the last Seeker to be brought forth. He grimaced and adjusted his position in his chair, trying to find relief from the soreness that had developed over the long day. This chair was a lot more comfortable when I had more padding on my rear end.

The large white doors at the end of the hall creaked open and a young man stepped inside, flanked by the temple's ceremonial guards. The guards gave the man no time to gawk at the gilded ceiling or spectacular paintings, nudging him along with polite but insistent pushes with their mailed hands. In comparison to the soft sounds made by the man’s tattered leather sandals, the guard's armored footsteps echoed loudly on the marble floor as they approached Dario. As they reached Dario's podium, all three men knelt, the guards' white cloaks sweeping around their feet. "Questioner, we present Seeker Timaeus."

"Thank you. Seeker Timaeus, do you have your Question?" said Dario, looking down upon the still kneeling man.

"I do, Questioner," said Timaeus as he stood up.

"Present your token and your Question," said Dario. At Dario's nod, Timaeus took a step forward and held up a silver coin before dropping it into the golden chalice at Dario's feet.

"Questioner, my wife and son were taken by slavers not a week ago. My Question is the name of the man who leads them, so that I may track down the slavers and rescue my family, as well as any others they have taken."

"Denied," said Dario, who had already stood up and grabbed his cane to turn around.

"But, Questioner!" said Timaeus, his expression shocked and uncomprehending.

One of the guards clapped a hand to Timaeus' shoulder. "Your Question is denied, Seeker."

"drat you! You can save my family but instead you condemn them to a life of slavery! Who are you to decide their fate?" Timaeus was yelling, red faced and fists clenched, as the guards dragged him away.

Dario stood atop the podium, leaning on his cane, watching silently as they finished pulling the man out of the hall, enduring the man’s shouted curses and accusations. Only once the doors slammed shut did he let out a sigh and sagged on his cane.

"Are you okay, Questioner?" asked a guard, stepping forward from one of the marble columns behind Dario.

"Please, Nikolaos, no more of that today," said Dario.

"Of course, Dario," said Nikolaos.

"Walk with me," said Dario. "I'd like to visit her before dinner."

Nikolaos extended his arm and Dario grasped it, walking towards the golden door set further back in the hall. The cane tapped in counterpoint to Nikolaos' boots as they made their way through the marble columns.

"So many people and more come every day. I hate it," said Dario.

"From what I've heard from the Seekers, they imagine you have to answer a Question soon. You've never gone so long without answering one. It's been over a year now," said Nikolaos.

"415 days," said Dario, shaking his head. "Many are worthy Questions, and it pains me not to be able to answer them all, but this is the last Question. It’s my duty to ensure it's a worthy one."

They reached the golden door and Dario pushed the end of his cane against it, slowly forcing the door open. Nikolaos held his breath, as he always had the few times he had been allowed in this room. They admired the view quietly for a moment. The room had similar, but smaller, marble columns as the hall, forming a ring around a central pond. A path of white stones formed a walkway extending into the pool, leading to the statue rising out of the water. The statue itself was a work of beauty, done in the form of a woman lounging on a rock, a pensive look on her face as if she were deep in contemplation. Her mouth seemed closed from this distance, but Nikolaos knew that there was the barest amount of space between her lips.

"Hello, my lady," said Dario with a smile. "I'm sorry I haven't been to visit lately." He took a doddering step forward and Nikolaos supported him as he made his way towards the walkway through the water. Their footsteps followed them in the heavy layer of dust that lay on every surface.

"Ah, Nikolaos, you should have been here decades ago. I didn't even have to walk across, but could instead shout at her from here and hear her answers plain as day. Her voice rang loud and seemed to resound from every corner. Now I have to press my ear to her mouth to barely make out what she says," said Dario.

"It seems like they were wonderful days," said Nikolaos, trying to imagine what it would have been like to hear the voice of a goddess.

"Wonderful and terrible," said Dario. "I think back to all of the foolish Questions I asked and am ashamed. So much wasted knowledge."

"That was before you realized her mouth was closing, Dario. You cannot blame yourself for that," said Nikolaos, patting Dario's shoulder.

"I should have realized, I should have known. She refused to answer the philosophical Questions I asked, and still I persisted, hoping to find the right way to phrase it to get an answer. The only thing I accomplished was closing her mouth more and more, one poor Question at a time," said Dario. "Not to mention all of the self-serving Questions I allowed to be put before her. That is why this last Question, Nikolaos, this final Question, must be the best one yet."

"You dream too big, Dario. One Question can't change the world," said Nikolaos.

"Who says?" said Dario, pulling away from Nikolaos and pointing his cane at Nikolaos' chest. "I've waited this long, I'll wait forever if need be." Dario swayed and stumbled, barely caught by Nikolaos before he toppled to the floor.

"Be careful, old man," said Nikolaos with a small laugh. "You're the only one she talks to."

"Insolence is not a virtue," said Dario, giving Nikolaos an evil eye before breaking into a thin smile. "Help this old man to dinner, would you?"

As Nikolaos helped Dario walk to the door, Dario turned and gave the statue a salute with his cane. "I'll see you soon, my lady."

The golden door shut behind them and only ever opened one more time, years later, when Nikolaos returned to lay flowers from Dario’s grave at the feet of his lady.

Walamor fucked around with this message at Sep 30, 2013 around 03:54

Walamor
Dec 31, 2006

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This is fantastic. In!

Walamor
Dec 31, 2006

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Dirty Communist posted:

Hey Thunderdome, I'd very much like to be in the next round. But you're already full, right? So I'll have to wait and watch until someone drops out? I figure the more people there are, the more likely a dropout. Please let me into your assless chaps wearing fight club.

Registration doesn't close until Friday, so sign up if you want!

Walamor
Dec 31, 2006

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The Young Tailor - 761 Words (666 + 95 from systran)

“I just don’t understand,” said Molly, staring down at her hands. “Is this our fault? Did we do something wrong?” She opened her hands, releasing a dozen multicolored scraps of cloth to flutter down to the surface of the dining room table.

Jim stood behind Molly with one hand assuringly on her shoulder. He surveyed the table, shaking his head. The table was blanketed with tiny capes, each marked with a ‘S’ in the center. Some of them seemed well crafted, made with silk of various colors, but others were just curled paper that looked to have been attacked by a well-intentioned infant with a highlighter. At the end of the lacquered wooden table sat two shoe boxes, labeled simply as ‘New’ and ‘Used’. Jim started to speak until the scraping, jingling sound of a key in a lock halted him. Both adults focused on the darkened hallway leading to the door as a figure stepped inside and casually called out “Hey Mom, Dad, I’m home!”

Molly folded her arms on the table. “Aaron. Please come in here. We need to talk”

The figure in the hallway slowed in taking off his coat at those dreaded words, then turned and froze, easily able to see the vibrant spectacle of color laid out on the table.

“Oh god. You guys didn’t touch any of them, did you?” said Aaron.

“Aaron Hamilton Burr, come here,” said Jim.

The magical use of his full name got Aaron to move forward. As he came into the fluorescent lighting of the dining room, his face was clearly pale and drawn into a mixed expression of shock and horror.

“What is this, Aaron? Is this for some sick game? Is this what you do when you’re on some sort of… I don’t know… acid high trip? Are you on drugs right now?” said Molly, already starting to tear up.

“Mom, no, come on. I’m not on drugs,” said Aaron. “Acid high trip? What even is that?”

“Well I don’t know, Aaron, I’m not some pot expert!” said Molly, now actually crying.

“Mom, I promise. I’m not on drugs,” said Aaron. He walked towards the table and gripped the back of one of the chairs, looking over the items spread over the table.

“Fine, Aaron, you’re not on drugs,” said Jim. “What is this then?”

Aaron flushed and struggled to say anything. Finally he quietly said, “It’s just something Sarah likes.”

Molly seemed to brighten at that and momentarily stopped crying. “Sarah? So this is some kind of guy thing?” asked Molly. She looked up at Jim then back at Aaron, who nodded. “Well then I’ll let you two boys talk about it. But Aaron, this is not a normal thing. Right Jim?” She got out of her chair, scraping it back along the linoleum floors, and left the room, grabbing some tissues from the Kleenex box on her way.

Jim took Molly’s seat and motioned for Aaron to do the same. “Look, Aaron, you know that I like Sarah. But your mother is right, this is weird.”

Aaron rubbed his chin and looked away. “She thinks it’s funny.”

“How so?” said Jim.

“Well, after we started dating we started fooling around.” Aaron looked up at Jim to see if he would say anything, but Jim remained silent.

It all started to tumble out of Aaron. “I guess that she thinks that I can last a long time. So she calls it the Superpenis. And I’m her Superman. So I thought it would be fun to make little capes, you know, to wear when I see her. She loves it.”

Jim didn’t know whether he should be worried, be laughing or be proud as he tried to compose himself. “Are you using protection?”

“Of course.”

“There’s a lot of weird kinks out there, son, and to be honest, this is a pretty tame, if weird, one. As long as you’re being careful, it’s fine. But why so many of them?” said Jim.

Aaron shrugged. “At first I just made quick and easy paper ones. Then I kinda got into it. I borrowed one of mom’s sewing kits and starting making nice ones.” Aaron fished out one of the silk ones, a red cloak with a blue ‘S’ neatly embroidered in the middle. “I just did this one over the weekend!” He looked quite pleased with himself.

Jim grinned in spite of himself. “Look, I’m glad you are expressing yourself. Just don’t leave them where your mom can find them, okay? And get rid of the used ones, please.”

Walamor
Dec 31, 2006

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I didn't submit this week, but this is a really cool thing you did. Looking forward to seeing who got accepted!

Walamor
Dec 31, 2006

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Kaishai posted:

In with this.

Flash Rule: Your protagonist is mute.

Alright, I'll jump on this grenade of a flash rule for the good of my TD brethren who may be still waiting to sign up.

Flash Rule: Your protag must be on an nontraditional vacation and your story must reflect that, not just be mere window dressing.

Walamor
Dec 31, 2006

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Closure
902 Words
Flash Rule: Protag is mute

“You should know why I’m here,” said the woman as she closed the fence door that led to his garden. “You should have been expecting this day.”

Paul looked at the intruder. She was pretty, maybe 30 years old, her face covered with freckles and her red hair pulled back into a ponytail. However, he only had eyes for the green scrap of cloth wrapped around her wrist and the pistol in her hand.

“It looks like someone almost did my job for me,” said the woman. She examined Paul sitting in his chair. “I heard someone gave you the bullet that all Tans deserve, and a bash on the head besides, but I’m glad it didn't finish you off. Now I get to be the one who makes you pay for what you did, as it should be.”

Paul closed his eyes, his suspicions confirmed. Every day of his life he remembered his fear, the same fear that permeated every member of his unit, from that day in ‘69 when they were sent to West Belfast. He recalled the jolt of adrenaline when he saw movement in the shadows of the apartment building. He could still feel the vibrations of his machine gun when he opened fire. The terror and shame he felt when they found the body and discovered it was a nine year old boy had never left him.

Paul opened his eyes and reached down for his small whiteboard that normally hung off his wheelchair, but it wasn't there. Samantha must have taken it to draw when he wasn't looking. He’d never be able to tell this woman how sorry he was, how terrible of a mistake he had made. He reached one hand up to his heart and extended to towards the woman, the best gesture he could think of.

The woman looked unconvinced. “Really, that’s it? That’s your way of saying sorry that you murdered my brother?”

Paul shrugged and kept his hand extended, starting to slightly shake. He didn't have as much strength as he used to.

The woman shook her head. “Whatever, I don’t know what I expected. It’s time to go. I promise you that I’ll put this one into your head, not your spine.”

For many years Paul had wished that of the first bullet. But now that he had seen his son grow up and start a family he was grateful that wasn't the case. Every day was a gift, a reprieve from death, and now it had finally caught up to him. It was time to pay for what he had done. Paul nodded and wiped tears from his eyes that he hadn't realized were there, steeling himself for what was to come.

“Grandpa?” came a voice from the edge of the garden. A small girl was hiding unsuccessfully behind one of the bushes, a curly mop of golden hair spilling over the top of the shrub. No, god, no. Not now. Paul looked to the woman with panic in his eyes and was relieved when she pulled the gun to her side. Her face played out conflicting emotions before she slid the gun into her jeans. Paul could only nod his thanks. He gestured for Samantha to come over.

She skipped over to him, looking suspiciously at the stranger. “There’s a lady here, grandpa. Is it stranger danger?” said the little girl.

He smiled and signed to her. “Hi, grandpa’s friend,” Samantha said brightly. The woman managed a weak smile. “Grandpa says you’re a good person, so I shouldn't worry.”

Paul signed to Samantha again. “No, grandpa, I’m sorry, I left your board in the house. I drew a picture of Sir Pounce! Would you like to see? Mom said it was really good!”

Paul shook his head and signed. “A gift, grandpa? What is it? I’m four now, and too old for surprises.”

Paul signed again. “A game? I love new games, I'll go get it right now, thanks grandpa!” Samantha said as she turned to leave. Paul’s hand shot out and grabbed her before she could run off and motioned for her to climb up onto his chair. She managed with some difficulty and Paul gathered her up into a big hug.

“Love you too, grandpa!” she said in response to his last signing to her as she ran off towards the house.

Paul looked back to the woman who was silently contemplating him. He touched his heart again and extended his hand to her. Thank you.

“I should have let her see you die, Tan, just like I watched my brother die,” she said. “You’re lucky I’m a better person than you are.” The small waver in her voice put her belief in her words in doubt.

Paul just nodded his head. As far as he was concerned, she was right. He looked around his garden one last time, savoring the sights and smells of this place. He may not have planted all of the flowers and shrubbery himself, but he was the designer, and it was his legacy to be passed down to his son, and Samantha eventually. He hoped they wouldn't be too disappointed in him.

“Look at me,” she said, her voice become hard, strained. She was crying silently. “You should see this coming.”

Her eyes were a wonderful shade of green, like his garden. He held her gaze until the world went black.

Walamor fucked around with this message at Dec 2, 2013 around 04:55

Walamor
Dec 31, 2006

Fork 'em Devils!


Congrats Jeza! Where's our prompt?

Walamor
Dec 31, 2006

Fork 'em Devils!


Fumblemouse posted:


Bad Seafood's crits should be up Wednesday and mine when I've written them, which may also be Wednesday but may not.


Calling him out. Thanks Jeza for your crit!

Walamor
Dec 31, 2006

Fork 'em Devils!


Bad Seafood posted:

Walamor - Closure

This story was okay. Well-tread ground but decent results. Your flash rule actually does a lot to bring something extra to the party, and I was so prepared for the man's would-be murderer to show mercy that I was pleasantly surprised when she actually didn't. A little trim and some salt, the woman and the girl being more than well-worn stock characters, would go a long way towards putting this up there with Kaishai's piece.

HOMEWORK: Night has fallen over the Arizona desert. A shovel bursts out from the earth and three figures emerge from the underground. You have 500 words to tell me what happens next.

Dear Professor Seafood, as discussed, here's my 500 word submission as well as my longer version.

LONGER VERSION

The shovel glinted in the moonlight as it was thrust up through the last bit of sand and dirt, causing a cascade of soil to fall on the men below. Three men pushed through the detritus to finally emerge into the night, taking large gulps of the fresh air. They stayed low to the ground, listening intently for any signs of a reaction to their presence. Apparently satisfied, the men straightened up and took stock of their surroundings.

“Thank god,” said one of the men. “That recycled air smelled just like Danny after a week down there.”

“Because you two smell so sweet right now, right? Besides, you still looking that gift horse in the mouth, Rick? We’re lucky that some old coot with more money than sense had a personal bunker built in the first place,” said Danny. He leaned over and shook the dirt out of his hair, then looked around. The three men were in the background of a ranch style home popular in Arizona subdivisions. One of the houses next door seemed to be intact, though the house on the other side was just a blackened ruin like so many of the others in the neighborhood.

“Maybe that coot wasn’t so crazy, you know, since he was right about the apocalypse after all,” said the third man.

“Oh really, Mark? I had totally forgotten about that,” said Rick.

“Just sayin’,” said Mark.

“Shouldn’t we be looking for the others instead of reminiscing?” said Danny.

“If the rest of the group are even still here,” said Mark. He walked over to a corner of the house and looked out at the street, houses in various states of destruction lining the other side.

“They’ll be hanging around,” said Rick. “I’m sure they saw the Jokers come in into the house we were in and went to ground. They know no bodies came out, so they’ll wait for us to make contact.”

“I found them,” said Mark, his voice distant and emotionless. “I found the group.”

Icy terror seized Rick and Danny’s hearts, but they forced themselves to walk over to him, each step a sheer force of will.

The other eight members of their group were only a few hundred feet away from them, each dangling from a length of rope attached to the sign at the entrance to the subdivision. The original “Welcome to Hillcrest” had been defaced in the past week, now bearing a simple warning in blood red paint: Keep Out.

“No, this can’t be happening” said Danny. He sank to his knees, tears already flowing. “Michelle!”

Rick clapped his hand over Danny’s mouth, his eyes still focused on the figures swaying slightly from side to side. “Be quiet, Danny. The Jokers might still be around.”

Danny pulled his head away from Rick. “Get off me. I have to go to her.” He called out Michelle’s name again.

“She’s dead, and I’m sorry, but you’ll give us away,” said Rick, but Danny was already getting up and starting to run forward. Rick grabbed at him but Danny twisted out of his grasp and Rick’s fingers only caught Danny’s sack, ripping the old and worn bag free from his shoulder. Some clothes as tattered and dirty as the ones they wore fell to the ground, along with a book and a couple other keepsakes.

Danny froze when the pack tore open. “drat, I’m sorry,” said Rick, reaching down to grab the clothes on the ground. Danny sprang down to gather up his stuff, but Rick already had his hand on a shirt. As he picked the shirt up, a can rolled out of the bundle with a ringing metallic sound. All three men stared at the can of black beans.

“What the gently caress!” said Rick. He kicked at the rest of the bundle and two more cans spun out of the clump of clothing.

“You hid food,” said Mark, staring at Danny in frank disbelief.

“Look, it was from my stocks earlier. It’s for Michelle,” said Danny.

“You son of a bitch! We were starving down in that bunker and you had food? gently caress you, Danny,” said Rick, thrusting a finger in Danny’s face.

Danny backed up a step. “You don’t understand, it’s just from my supply of food from before! It’s not my fault you two lost your food.”

“You were the loving lookout. We wouldn’t have lost poo poo if you had not been completely useless and actually warned us that the Jokers were coming,” said Rick. His hands tightened into fists and his face was turning red as he walked towards Danny.

“I’m sorry for that, I already said I was sorry,” said Danny, his hands up in the air as if warding off Rick’s advance.

“No, Danny, no. gently caress you,” said Rick. He stopped and bent down in the middle of Danny’s things. Rick opened his own sack and started to shovel in everything that lay on the ground. Danny didn’t try to stop him; he just turned towards the sign. His shoulders shook and choked sobs escaped him as Rick finished packing up his bag.

“Come on, Mark,” said Rick as he slung his bag over his shoulder.

“Are you sure?” said Mark, his eyes darting from Rick to Danny.

“Aren’t you?” said Rick over his shoulder as he walked away.

Mark stood for a moment, watching Danny and looking back at the eight figures that were once his friends, then moved to follow Rick.

“Wait, please,” said Danny. “One last favor.”

Rick turned around. “We don’t owe you anything.”

“Just one thing,” Danny said, pausing and clearing his throat. “I just want some rope.”

Rick frowned and studied Danny before letting out a sad little sigh. He pulled his pack around and fished around in it until he pulled out a length of rope and tossed it at Danny’s feet.

“It should be long enough,” said Rick, his voice cracking a little bit. “Let’s go.”

Danny reached down and picked up the rope. “It’ll do just fine, thanks Rick.”

Rick refused to look back at him and walked off into the night. Mark took one last glance at Danny before he joined Rick.

“He was with us a long time,” said Mark.

“I know,” said Rick.

“Shouldn’t we…” said Mark, his voice trailing off.

“He’s made his choice,” said Rick as he picked his way through the rocky wash towards the next group of houses. “Don’t look back. We have to keep moving forward.”

But Mark kept looking back, even after he couldn’t see the nine figures dangling from the sign.

500 WORD VERSION

The shovel burst upwards through the last bit of dirt, causing a cascade of soil to fall on the men as they emerged into the night, taking large gulps of the fresh night air.

“Thank god,” said one of the men. “That recycled air smelled just like Danny after a week down there.”

“Because you smell so sweet right now, right Rick?” said Danny. He leaned over and shook the dirt out of his hair. The men were in the backyard of a spanish style house like all of the homes in the neighborhood, though this one was intact, not a blackened ruin like many others. “Mark clearly smells the worst anyways.” Mark made a show of sniffing himself as the other two laughed.

“gently caress you, buddy,” said Mark with a grin on his face as he gave Danny a playful push. Danny half stepped back, but his foot caught on a rock and he went down to the rocky desert ground with a thud. Danny’s sack snagged on a one of the many prickly pear cacti in the yard, ripping the old and worn bag free from his shoulder. Some clothes as tattered and dirty as the ones they wore fell to the ground, along with a couple other keepsakes.

Danny froze when the pack tore open. “drat, I’m sorry,” said Mark, reaching down to grab the clothes on the ground. Danny sprang to gather up his stuff, but Mark already had his hand on a shirt. As he picked the shirt up, a can rolled out of the bundle with a ringing metallic sound. All three men stared at the can of black beans.

“What the gently caress!” said Rick. He ran over and kicked at the rest of the bundle. Two more cans spun out of the clump of clothing.

“You hid food,” said Mark, staring at Danny in frank disbelief.

“Look, guys, calm down. It’s for Michelle,” said Danny.

“Michelle’s been dead for three months you son of a bitch!” said Rick, thrusting a finger in Danny’s face.

Danny backed up a step. “You don’t know that! We’ll find her!”

“No, Danny, no. gently caress you,” said Rick. He opened his own sack and started to shovel in everything that lay on the ground. Danny pleaded with him, always for Michelle, but he didn’t try to stop him. His shoulders shook and choked sobs escaped him as Rick finished packing up his bag.

“Come on, Mark,” said Rick as he slung his bag over his shoulder.

“Are you sure?” said Mark, his eyes darting from Rick to Danny.

“Aren’t you?” said Rick over his shoulder as he walked away.

“Wait, please,” said Danny. “Guys, come on!”

Rick refused to look back at him. Mark took one last glance at Danny before he joined Rick.

“Shouldn’t we…” said Mark, his voice trailing off.

“He made his choice,” said Rick as he made his way towards the next group of houses. “Don’t look back. We have to keep moving forward.”

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Walamor
Dec 31, 2006

Fork 'em Devils!


The Leper Colon V posted:

I'd be fine with losing, if he'd actually judged me by an appropriate loving metric.

He asked for a story, not a 400 word joke. He judged you on your story. Not sure what you expected.

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