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BlackFrost
Feb 6, 2008

Have you figured it out yet?


Sure, I'll bite. I haven't written poetry since High School (more of a prose guy), but this is the Thunderdome, and I expect to be hurting by the time it ends.

Flash rule: Must be a haiku (can be longer than three lines, to meet the criteria of the thread. So just go 5-7-5 over and over). If someone deems this rule as "Terrible Garbage" then too bad, this is the loving THUNDERDOME bitches.

BlackFrost fucked around with this message at Jan 10, 2013 around 06:04

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BlackFrost
Feb 6, 2008

Have you figured it out yet?


Oh god what have I done. I have constructed a poem. I have not even attempted this, ever, at all, in any serious fashion.

But it's done. After two separate rewrites, it's done. I hope you're happy, Thunderdome. This is what your have wrought from my mind. I had to do it, though. I knew if I chickened out on poetry week that I'd chicken out on every week thereafter, and I can't have that. I was born to be here, in the Thunderdome. If nothing else, this experience has given me newfound respect for those who try to write poetry seriously.

Enjoy. Jerks.

Flash Rule: Poem must be an acrostic poem that spells out "ONLY DEATH IS REAL"
Word Count: 377

Mountain Climber
code:
Over the mountaintop, I gaze down below me at the rocky path below,
  a gentle breeze rises up to greet me, and it beckons me to press on.
Never have I considered that the hard part would ever reach an end, and that 
  now the rest of the way would be as gentle as that breeze; a faster path, for sure.
Looking over my shoulder before making my descent, I wonder about the paths I could
  have taken before; the ones that could have lead to much more elegant peaks.
Yet I cannot turn back now, for once a path is decided it must then be completed,
  for as you climb the rocky path, it becomes trickier; retreat is nigh impossible.
Descending is indeed much easier than the climb, yet I try not to get too confident,
  getting a little reckless could make me fall; yet I cannot help but hurry downward.
Even as I start to falter, I do not skip a beat, for I know the journey will soon be  
                                                        over; I’ll finally get to rest. 

At last, the end appears to be coming: I can see some trees; I’m almost there!
Trotting downward evermore, the path gets steeper as I go.
Hurry downward, hurry on, I must return home very soon.
Incredibly, the path is flattening now, but soon it ends abruptly with a cliff.
Stopping at the edge, I take a glance down below, into the trees that now seem 
                                                                                                

                                                                        further away than ever.

Realizing that this is the end, the path I have chosen has indeed
  led to this, the final descent, the easiest part of the climb but also
  the hardest, I ponder: was there another path that went for longer?

Everywhere I could have gone, every choice I could have made, they
  swim in my mind as I gaze below, but alas, there’s no turning back;
  besides, they all have the same end, no matter how short the path.
  
After everything is done with, after every choice is made, there is only
  one point where the path is always the same; they all lead to this very
  cliff; I realize, then, as I hurl to the ground, that the old adage is true:

Life’s a bitch, 
                                                                                                   

                                                                       and then you die. 

BlackFrost
Feb 6, 2008

Have you figured it out yet?


Alright, Capntastic, here we go. I don't know much about poetry, but I at least do know what iambic pentameter is, and you have my sympathies for having to put up with it. Let's dive in and see if I can't at least offer something resembling a good critique for you.

Comments are in bold.

Capntastic posted:

Didn't hit the word count but didn't feel like forcing fetid puke out of my brain just to lengthen a poem. Fair enough.

Wound Man

(274 words.)

The blade can cut its way down into
muscles, tendons, sinews, arrayed vessels. Good, macabre imagery here. I actually shivered a little.
The rash can spread its way across
the arms, the legs, the back, the breast.
Catalogued the body's scrapes and markings
upon one man to show inner workings. This confused me at first, but I got it after reading the next stanza. Guess I should have paid more attention to the title, actually.

Wound Man's virtue is his freedom from shame
which lets scholars memorize sufferings.
To carry pain and steel and illnesses,
burdens that grow and weigh upon the spine,
kind to us, open, as life's been to him.
He is just one man, to which all pain goes. Pretty good imagery here, and I like the mention of scholars trying to learn from him.

Cut back flesh reveals sick innards through gore.
Though his mind's state remains surreptitious,
through years of pokes and prods, scaldings and scrapes. A fair amount of detail, and it doesn't get too over-the-top. I like it.
One can't help but wonder about Wound Man.
Broker body than mind, or vice versa?
No one really wants to figure this out.

But still, he's there in stained pages and minds.
Our thoughts dance around his bloodied body,
focussed on all but the sum of his parts. I really like this line, despite the typo.
To learn from him is to deny insight.
Lessons that blind (beyond gouged out eyeballs);
studies that numb (outside of torn out nerves).

Recoil, subconsciously, from what he means.
Implacable in face, just drawn that way.
Quartered by thousands of horses, to teach.
No mind, we hope, placed in that head, or else
it too, wracked with trauma, madness, and pain,
we find ourselves wanting to help. Too late. These last two stanzas are great. They connect really well with the wikipedia link you posted, and makes that simple image used to teach doctors something much more sinister.

We've seen that no blade, gun, or germ affects
Wound Man's deathless stasis, at least for long.
Stagnation is his shameless pride, always.
Envy of immortality is fair,
scholars might all agree; aside from that cost.
Wound Man is a cut above, and below. I think you kinda blow it here. Not in a bad way, mind you, but you flat out explain to us that this poem is about the horrid reality that would be immortality, and how getting surgery to "fix yourself" over and over may lead to a fate worse than death, rather than letting the poem be a big enough hint on its own. I do like the last line, though.

Overall, I see the message of the poem and I think it does a good job of presenting that message, even if it does drop a bit of the subtlety at the end. The descriptions of Wound Man do a good job of creating a grotesque image in the mind, and that's good. Good enough that I really think you may've been able to cut out that final stanza entirely, to be honest. It seems to exist only to serve as an explanation for what I just read. Not necessarily a bad thing, just a nitpick I suppose.

You slip up on iambic pentameter a few times ("is his" "which lets").

I'm...not really sure what else to say, though. Like I said, I don't really know much about poetry, so I'm kinda taking this at face value and seeing what works. I will say that I think you've got something really good here, but a little more work may be needed to make it really shine. Reworking the final stanza is a must, for sure.

That's all I've got, really. I hope you got something useful out of it, and I apologize that I cannot be more critical. I just don't want to give you advice on something that I am not very knowledgeable about. I'm certain one of the judges will offer more sound advice.

Cheers!

BlackFrost
Feb 6, 2008

Have you figured it out yet?


gently caress yes, definitely in for this one.

BlackFrost
Feb 6, 2008

Have you figured it out yet?


I'm not exactly happy with this, at least not yet. More work is obviously needed, but I'm sleep-deprived and there's no way I can pour more time into it now. More drafts may be written, but I'll hold off until after the thunderdome goons have torn it to pieces.

As for Vonnegut's rules, I'd say 1, 4, and 5 apply the most.

Home - 1,705 words.

If there’s one thing you can appreciate about small towns, it’s consistency. The city was constantly growing, expanding, changing. One day, you could turn down a street on the way to work, and the next day, there’d be some fancy new sign hanging from one of the buildings, advertising whatever obscure merchandise the owner was pushing. It gave this feeling that the city itself was alive; that there were so many people there that even the buildings seemed to come and go.

In a small town, though—at least, in Topton—nothing ever changes. The same shops all line the center road, and the same people run them. The same people live in the same houses they had before, and while there may occasionally be a newcomer or two, they almost always pass on. As such, there is one other consistency in a small town: empty houses. No one comes to knock them down, and people who move in don’t stay for long.

That’s why I found it very odd when I received a voicemail from my mother, telling me that she and my father were going to leave town and never look back. She hadn’t even said where she was going. She was brief, but I heard something in her voice that worried me. It reminded me of how she would speak if I had hurt myself as a child, or if dad hadn’t called to let her know why he was coming home late.

That's why I went back. I had to know what happened. If nothing else, I wanted to find my mother.

During the drive, I hoped that it was some sort of weird joke; that my mother was pulling some trick to bring me home.

She wasn't.



My bad feeling didn't subside as Topton came into view. Those small, humble buildings always seemed so sad; they wanted to grow, to expand. But they never did.

I kept my eyes locked on the road as I pulled into town. I didn't want to see anyone, or anything, that I recognized. I didn’t want them to know I was home. I drove straight to the house, hoping I would get some clues without having to talk to anyone.

The familiar driveway came into view, and I dared to glance at the house. For a moment, I almost thought I had misjudged the location. The door was red instead of white, and there seemed to be an extra window, next to my bedroom. At least, that's what I thought I saw. As I pulled into the driveway, I realized that everything was exactly as it should be; white door, only two windows on the second floor.

"Weird," I said aloud, but shook it off. Probably just stress. One of those weird, corner-of-the-eye tricks. Nothing more. I looked down at the small walkway, and followed its path to the front door with my eyes. That path had seemed so long when I was a kid, and now, it was just a few big steps.

As I approached the front door, I had to fight the urge to turn around, get back in my car, and leave. Everytime I came home, this feeling would sink into my heart, and it would tighten up the longer I stayed there. I couldn’t remember any previous visit that had brought it to this level in such short time, but then again, in each of those visits I knew for sure who would be on the other side of that white door.

I stopped at the door and took a deep breath. I shut my eyes, and my fingers trembled. Just knock, I thought. Just knock, and when no one answers, turn around and leave. Simple.

Seriously. Just knock.

This isn’t that hard. It’s a simple motion.

Just raise up your arm… or don’t. That’s cool, too.

…This is ridiculous.


I opened my eyes and reached for the door, and immediately drew back as the door changed before me, but before I could ascertain what I was seeing, I blinked, and sure enough, the door was white. It was always white. I stood there for a few moments, staring, and when I realized that I was shaking I wondered what the neighbors would think if they saw me acting like this.

I knocked on the door. Waited a moment. Knocked again.

She didn’t come. Nobody came. I wanted to bang on the door, over and over, until someone came, but I knew they wouldn’t. Mom was gone, she was truly gone, and she hadn’t bothered to tell me where she went.

“Did we really grow that distant?” I said aloud, and realized that, once again, I must look like an insane fool. I sighed, and turned to walk back to my car.

A doorknob turned. As the metal hinges creaked, the air seemed to stand still, and the sound permeated so heavily that I could almost hear each individual spec of rust grinding against one another (didn’t dad plan on fixing that?) before fading off into silence. I glanced behind me, and saw an empty doorway, as if the house itself beckoned me to enter.

I felt my legs swivel around, and I approached the house. “Hello? Mom?” The house was dark, even in the daylight. Stepping into the living room, I realized that I had never seen the house this dark before; mom always had at least one light on in each room. “It makes sense now, huh?”

No one was home. In fact, it seemed as though no one had been home for quite some time. I could smell dust; I could feel the stagnant air as I moved through it. It surrounded me, as if to embrace me and welcome me home.

I moved through the living room, stepping around the dusty couch, and turned left to enter the kitchen. The carpeted floor simply gave way to linoleum, though the only thing visible from the living room was the flimsy, blue dinner table and the windowed sliding door that led to the backyard.

How many meals had mom eaten here since I’d gone? Alone, staring at her dish, not feeling hungry but forcing herself to eat, her stomach constantly knotting and turning with some fear that he would come back some day. That he would barge in through the door and be a part of her life again.

“I’m sorry,” I said, and almost jumped when I realized I felt like sobbing. “I’m so sorry.”

I rubbed my eyes, trying to clear my vision, and for a moment I thought the back door was gone. I blinked, and in the blur, I saw the sunlight shining in from the backyard. My heart slowed as I wiped the last of the tears from my eyes, and then I saw the wall perfectly, the sunlight having vanished.

I blinked.

Wall.

I heard a sound, like sobbing, coming from close by. I spun around, and the living room was gone. The wall had closed me in the kitchen. The sobbing intensified, and as I covered my ears I realized that the sound was coming from me.

I put my face in my hands, and for a moment, wanted to collapse to the kitchen floor and weep, as I had probably done many times as a child. But instead I lifted my head up and glanced at the wall again. In the corner of my eye, I saw the living room carpet; it was to the right, instead of to the left.

Of course it was. It was always like that. I could’ve sworn I had come in from the opposite direction, but I knew better. I was just stressed, is all. Confused.

That clenching feeling I’d had came back, and it took control of my legs. I walked for the living room, but stopped, dead in my tracks, when I passed the red door next to the fridge.

I stared at the door, refusing to blink it away this time. Because that door was always there. I knew it was. I’d seen it before, even if there were times when it was hidden. I knew the door was there because it’s where he went the night he disappeared. The night he left our lives yet left something behind, something terrible, something that I had left with mom.

And now mom was gone, too.

That sound again. Metal grinding… no, it was stuck. The door knob was stuck. But it was moving. Something had found it.

I jumped at the rapping, and that was enough to snap me out of my trance. I grabbed the fridge with both hands, screamed, and pulled it down, blocking the door. My body threw me at the living room—toward the front door—before I’d even had a chance to think about it. I flew out of the door, out of the house, into the cold air outside, and collapsed on the cement walkway, my face buried in my hands.

I knew I had to get to the car. I had to get out of there, wait for mom to call me some other time, and tell me where she’d gone. I would never think of this rickety old house or the piece of poo poo town it lived in ever again, but I felt paralyzed.

Get up. Now. You’re stronger than this.

I got up.

Good. Now, open your eyes.

No…

Open them, god drat it. Stop this.

I opened my eyes, and almost fell again as they gazed upon the front door from the darkness of the living room. Was I really that confused that I hadn’t even made it to the front door? What was that cold breeze I’d felt, then?

I’m losing my mind. I’m going completely loving bonkers.

That’s what I kept telling myself, even as I heard the door in the kitchen burst open, as I heard the heavy footsteps behind me. I stared at the front door—red, of course it was loving red—and didn’t bother turning around when the footsteps softened on the carpet.

Behind me, I heard an all-too-familiar voice that had haunted my dreams for years even after I’d left.

“Welcome home,” it said.

BlackFrost
Feb 6, 2008

Have you figured it out yet?


In for this one!

BlackFrost
Feb 6, 2008

Have you figured it out yet?


Sooner or later I'm going to learn to stop writing in the first person. I decided to go outside of my comfort zone here--I attempted to write in present tense and to write something that isn't based around some kind of horror--so go hard on this one, folks. Knock me to the ground and hit me while I'm down.

Beautiful Morning - 1,357 words

Ah, it’s a beautiful morning. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and the neighbor’s car is on fire. It’s an interesting feeling, watching something so beautiful burn. I mean, I hate the car—I’ve always hated it—but I can’t deny that it’s beautiful. The fire makes the red color shine brighter, too. I mean, I know the fire is dangerous. Don’t cars explode when they catch fire? Or is that only in the movies? I don’t know, but I hope he wakes up quick, before it spreads.

I suppose I should call the fire department. It’s not like anyone else will. I’m sure they’re sitting in their warm, comfortable homes, watching the car burn (did I mention it’s a spectacle? Because seriously, it is), figuring one of the other neighbors will call. With reluctance, I reach into my pocket and pull out my phone. I consider, for a moment, recording a video of the fire. Hmmm… nah. The video wouldn’t do it justice. It wouldn’t capture the little details.

I dial 9-1-1, take a deep breath, and wait for the operator.

A woman’s voice breaks the dial tone. “9-1-1, what’s your emergency?”

“Mmm… yeah,” I say, “I need to report a fire. 104 Franklin Ave. It’s my neighbor’s car.”

“104 Franklin?”

“Yes.”

“Is there anyone inside or around the vehicle?”

“No, ma’am.” I glance at some of the neighbors’ windows. If anyone’s watching, they’re not showing themselves.

“Okay, sir, we have the fire department en route.” Excellent. It should take them some time. I’ll get to enjoy the fire a little longer. I’m hoping he steps outside before they get here. I would love to see his face when he spots it, or at least his reaction once he steps outside—probably still in his PJs—and sees his car, his precious Ford, engulfed in flames.

“Sir?”

I snap back to reality. “I’m sorry? Yes?”

“Your name, sir.”

“Oh. Sorry. Shaw, Steven Shaw.”

“That’s Shaw, S-H-A-W?”

“Yes ma’am. Listen, I should go. Someone should notify him.”

“Who, sir?”

“Oh, my neighbor of course. He doesn’t know what’s happened. Thank you.”

She continues on, but I hang up.

My timing is perfect. His door is opening. There he is, in his stupid bathrobe, and, Christ, even in the morning his hair has that combed, sculpted look to it. When they started using the term chiseled to describe handsomeness, it was probably because of people like my neighbor. Bastard.

His expression is a contorted, unreadable mess. I see anguish, sure, but there’s that glint of hope yet, the hope that what he’s seeing isn’t real and that he’ll wake up soon. I wonder: was that the same face I made when I saw him with my wife, through the bedroom window? When I came home, went upstairs, looked across the way and there they were, loving like the world was ending?

I imagine it was similar. I can’t be sure. My face isn’t quite as chiseled as his. His is a little less hairy, too. I mean, it’s not like I had a mirror, either.

Something catches his attention. He blinks, turns, and stares at me, standing a few feet from his burning car. I try to resist the urge to grin and wave, but it’s a lost cause.

“Don’t worry, neighbor—I called the police for you.”

Ah, there it is, the realization. His confusion and anguish is turning to clarity and rage. That’s good, you lying sack of poo poo, get mad. All those years, behind my back, after I trusted you. This is it. This is my vengeance.

I see my wife, then. She steps outside just as the sirens are heard in the distance. She raises a hand, she touches him. She stares at the spectacle—she always liked playing with fire, so I imagine she can’t help but admire the flames a little—before she glances up at his eyes and follows their gaze.

The rage is instant. “You,” she says, and the fire in her eyes isn’t just a reflection.

I shrug my shoulders. “Me.”

“What. The gently caress, Steve?”

“Ah! Hold on, where have I heard this before—didn’t we already have this conversation, in reverse?”

“Jesus loving Christ! Don’t tell me you did this. Don’t tell me you lit Frank’s car on fire.”

“Oh wow! The exact same words! This is incredible! Well, I mean, replace ‘lit’ with ‘hosed’, ‘car’ with ‘dick’, er… nothing really replaces ‘fire’…”

“You lunatic!” There are tears forming in her eyes. Well, gently caress. Even now, it still stings a little to see my wife cry.

“Look, you can’t say this wasn’t coming,” I say.

At this point, something in Frank seems to snap. In a flash, he is over his porch railing, on the sidewalk, and barreling toward me. I take a moment to admire the rage in his eyes before I realize that I should probably move. Unfortunately, that moment wasn’t long enough to give me ample time to do so, and before I know it I am spiraling onto the street. My head connects with the road, and my vision blurs. Something begins pounding my face.

Somehow, despite this, my contentment does not subside.

Someone pulls him away. I feel someone else lift me to my feet as I try to rub my eyes. Through the fuzz, I can make out my wife, still on Frank’s porch, on her knees. I can see Frank—one of the firemen is restraining him—and I assume one of them is lifting me up as well. Then, reality fades away.



Sometime after I come to, I am told I must give a statement. The police sit me down in a nice, well-lit room (in the movies, I always remembered scenes like this taking place in a dark room with a long table; do the movies do anything right?) and ask me to explain what happened.

“Well, uh, my neighbor punched me, if you can’t tell. Quite a few times, actually.”

“Do you know why he did that?”

“Well, probably because I lit his car on fire.”

I explain the rest of the story. I see no point in lying; I know I’m going to do time, but maybe if my actions are justified I can get a little bit of a break. I don’t know if that’s how the law works, but it’s worth a shot.



Later, in court, I am not surprised to hear that Frank and my wife both lied in their reports. They tried to tell the court—I poo poo you not—that they hadn’t started seeing each other until after the divorce. Bullshit; I saw them plenty of times, even before the divorce.

Granted, I didn’t have the balls to confront them until sometime after (the screaming that took place in Frank’s house probably would’ve gotten the police called had the neighbors ever given enough of a poo poo to call them). I wanted to confront them sooner, before we split up, but she never gave me the chance, really. I remember asking if Frank had anything to do with her decision, but she claimed it was because of my “clingy paranoia.” Sure.

I try to explain this to the court, but the judge and jury are not impressed. I am given five years in prison and a $5,000 fine to boot.

Thanks to his insurance, Frank will probably get a shiny new car and he’ll get to keep my wife. They’ll probably move away and cut all ties well before I get out of prison.

That’s for the better, I think. I can’t imagine what I might do if I had to set eyes on that new car of his every morning, with the knowledge that he was still asleep, in his bed, next to her. I might do something drastic.

As I am taken away from the court, I am filled with one regret: that I did not take even a single photo of the fire, so that I could relive my moment of triumph once I got out of prison. Even so, I’ll always have that morning.

That beautiful morning.

BlackFrost
Feb 6, 2008

Have you figured it out yet?


I'm definitely down for this system. Nothing is more important to a writer than critique. I'm not sure I'd be able to outright judge any of the rounds, but if called upon to do so I won't back down.

BlackFrost
Feb 6, 2008

Have you figured it out yet?


Erik Shawn-Bohner posted:

Lit Mag Goonrush

Submit your literary feces to the following place: http://boundoff.com/submit/

It's cool because it's a "mag" that reads your story aloud and only buys the rights for that recording, leaving the rest of your rights to you, so you don't lose poo poo for getting accepted and can publish it elsewhere. Read, understand, and follow the guidelines so you can maybe have your story read by a real human being and make a whole $20. I'd gladly pay that much to make sure you all never wrote again.

Proof must be posted, as before, for consideration for winning. Shame falls on those too cowardly to do it. Those accepted should post proof to encourage the failures among us.

Go show them how the loving TD rolls, fuckers.

I sincerely doubt it will be chosen, but gently caress IT

BlackFrost
Feb 6, 2008

Have you figured it out yet?


Bad Seafood posted:

Additionally, a friendly reminder to use Proper Manuscript Format for all your submissions (minus the bio stuff in this case). All gratitude for saving yourself from looking the fool is to be directed to Budgieinspector, the hippest cat I know.

Wellp. That's what I get for just diving right in.

At least I got the double-spacing right.

e: Withdrawn, resubmitting in just a little bit.

e2: Done.

BlackFrost fucked around with this message at Jan 28, 2013 around 09:48

BlackFrost
Feb 6, 2008

Have you figured it out yet?


Sitting Here posted:

Well, I managed to double space.

I'm never sure what to put in a cover letter for this sort of thing. "Hi from the internet, um, please pay me for my writing?"



I think generally you just state why you're writing, then the title of your piece and a short description of what it's about. Then thank them for their time and put your name.

BlackFrost
Feb 6, 2008

Have you figured it out yet?


I'm in.

BlackFrost
Feb 6, 2008

Have you figured it out yet?


HereticMIND posted:

On the fence here as whether to join or not. On one hand, I wanna flex them writing muscles of mine.

Other hand says that I don't handle criticism as well as I should, complied with my good friend Insecurity telling me that my stuff may not be up to Thunderdome standards.

For now, I'll just sit here...stewing in my indecision. Don't mind me...

Quit shuffling your feet and throw your hat into the ring. You've already stepped into the Dome, now wallow in despair and write for us.

e:

HereticMIND posted:

...You're all insane. You know this, right?

Fine. If you want me to go in hard and deep, I'll go in hard and DEEP.

Sign me up. I shall either bathe in the blood of my enemies or be mercilessly slaughtered. Let the battle be joined!

Insanity and despair are the fuel that run this thread. Glad to see you've got some fight in you. You'll need it.

BlackFrost fucked around with this message at Feb 7, 2013 around 02:44

BlackFrost
Feb 6, 2008

Have you figured it out yet?


Initially, I had just typed out the chase sequence with zero context to see how the action went. Before submitting I decided to add some semblance of a beginning and end, realized how awkward it flowed, and rewrote the whole drat thing. I still tried to focus on the action more than anything else. I hope I've created a coherent sequence, since I'm generally not very good at writing action. If anyone has advice on how to write it well (or can point me to some) I'd love to hear it, actually.

Mine - 1,000 words.

Emmett shivered as he returned to consciousness. He tried to open his eyes, but the lights overheard burned. He felt a pounding in his head. He rolled and planted his face on the hard surface—was he on the floor? He opened his eyes, and through the blur made out a dull gray.

Concrete.

He rose on all fours, blinking until his vision cleared. The light reflected on the floor and burned his eyes. He grunted as his head felt like it split in half, right down the back. He rubbed the back of his head, and felt a bump.

He paused, then tried to rise, managing to stand upright. He opened his eyes and scanned the room. To his left, he spotted an old, wooden desk. In front of him was a single, metal door. There was a switch next to it—for the lights, he assumed.

“Hello?” He coughed, and realized he needed something to drink. He made his way over to the desk and opened each drawer, looking for something useful. Nothing.

He planted both hands on the desk and studied the wooden frame. He tried to remember something—anything—about where he was. What was he doing before this? Was he attacked? There was something familiar about the small room. The empty room definitely wasn’t his office.

Office. Work. I work here. This is one of the unused offices.

The old mine had a lot of empty rooms like this one. Emmett figured what happened: he’d stumbled in here, slipped, and hit his head on the concrete. Simple enough, but there was still one question: Why had he come in here in the first place?

He remembered rushing down here. A digger went nuts on the radio, saying he’d found something, and urged everyone to come see. Emmett was on his way when he’d heard something weird on the radio, like a guttural roar. Then, he saw something—

BANG!

He looked at the door, unable to move his legs. Something sharp scraped against the metal. He thought he heard a voice, maybe a grunt?

BANG!

He snapped into action. In one swift motion, he flicked the light switch off, then made his way back to the desk. He tilted it, caught it before it hit the floor, and ducked behind it.

The door crashed open. He heard flesh thumping against concrete as something heavy moved into the room. He covered his mouth, forced himself to breathe through his nose. He realized that the light from the corridor might reveal his presence, and didn’t dare make a move to peek over the desk.

He heard a guttural sound—the sound he’d heard on the radio—and dug his fingers into his cheeks. The heavy footfalls grew louder—closer—and then stopped. He could hear breathing. He glanced upward, and though the light revealed what was standing before him, its main features were bathed in shadow.

The naked, pale figure looked almost like a regular person at first glance, but in just a few moments Emmett made something out—its arm, it seemed to dangle into many fleshy strands that ended in sharp points—and backed into the wall.

The creature seemed to poke its head forward, and Emmett realized it must’ve been looking right at him. It cried out—an awful, indescribable sound—and Emmett scrambled to his feet, moving for the door. He stumbled over the desk and fell, but was back up in moments. He flew out of the room and collided with the adjacent wall.

He turned left, saw another figure burst out of one of the other rooms, and almost slipped as he whirled around and ran. He heard screaming—definitely human—but didn't stop for a second. As he ran, he thought of running the track back in college, and how heavy his feet felt when he sprinted under the hot, unforgiving sun. Now, even in the cool, underground mine, his feet were heavy.

He tripped over something and fell to the ground. He glanced behind him, and in the dim hallway made out several figures shambling toward him. He was surprised at how much distance he'd managed to put between himself and the creatures.

He got to his feet, and glanced down the corridor. He saw a door just a few meters down, along the right-hand wall, and went for it. As he moved, a realization dawned on him, and he stopped.

I’m going the wrong way. I’m not heading toward the surface, I’m going down.

He had stopped for only a moment before springing for the door again. It didn’t budge. He grabbed the knob and shoved, even kicked the door. He realized that he wasn’t actually turning the knob, let out a cackle, and pulled the door open. He shut it behind him.

Another empty room with a desk. He coughed—Christ, his throat burned—and moved for the desk. He kneeled onto it, breathed, and pushed it toward the door.

BANG!

He cackled again, pausing to massage his throat. Door knobs sure are a pain in the rear end, aren’t they?

He slid the desk against the door, and collapsed. He turned and leaned back against the desk, rubbing his eyes. He felt tears, and realized that his hands were shaking. At that moment, the pounding in his head returned.

BANG!

No way out. His legs felt like jelly, his tongue felt swollen and dry. Even if he managed to slip by them, he wouldn’t get very far. He thought of the people he was leaving behind. His wife, his kids.

He heard the door open (it opens the other way, gently caress me, how could I forget that?) and tried to crawl away. He didn’t turn around, even as something grabbed his legs and pulled.

Emmett heard screaming as something sharp dug into the back of his skull. Then, he felt searing pain—like something splitting the back of his head open, down the middle—and everything went dark.

BlackFrost
Feb 6, 2008

Have you figured it out yet?


Thanks everyone for your harsh crits! Looking back at Mine, everyone who has critiqued it pretty much hit the nail on the head. I wasn't planning on going back to this piece, but due to the sheer amount of critiquing it has received, I'm gonna give it another go.

Oh, to whoever said it cribbed from Amnesia: you're close, but it was actually Pebumbra I played this weekend. Hiding under a desk as a monster bashes into the room is the first encounter in the second Penumbra game. I based it off of that because I thought writing such a terrifying situation would be a lot of fun. And it was; now I just have to tighten it up.

Thanks again guys. I'll try to do some crits in the next round since I've been slacking with them.

BlackFrost
Feb 6, 2008

Have you figured it out yet?


I am in. This is a pretty good prompt for Valentine's Day, now that I think about it.

BlackFrost
Feb 6, 2008

Have you figured it out yet?


Was a few hours from bailing, but decided to shame my family with lovely writing instead of no writing.

Enjoy.

Coffee - 1,088 words.

Steve leaned against his Pontiac, pressing his fingers into his keys as he looked down at the top of his car. He stood there, the cold winter air of the night brushing against his face, waiting for some kind of intervention, or maybe a sign. He’d never asked for a sign before. Did people who weren’t religious even get signs? Was there a special kind of “sign” that didn’t have some divine meaning behind it?

“poo poo.” He inserted the key.

The lock clicked open, and he turned to lean back against his car. This was for the best. He knew it, and sooner or later she would agree. It would be simpler this way. Maybe someday he would be able to return, and maybe things could go back to the way they were. If nothing else, he hoped that one day he would be able to wake up to the smell of someone brewing fresh coffee—not that instant stuff, either, but actual coffee beans—and the two of them would spend the morning chatting about how they’d slept, or whether or not they should cook dinner early that day.

They could talk about the most boring things sometimes, but it didn’t matter, because the coffee—as always—would be perfect, with just a little bit of a sugar and a hefty amount of cream. Because he would get to look into her eyes, and forget that he wasn’t doing anything with his Art History degree, or that his car had been making a funny clicking sound whenever he turned, or that he would soon have to go to work and answer phone calls all day.

In return, he gave nothing. The money he pulled in was barely enough to fill the car with gas, and maybe help with groceries now and then. It wasn’t fair that he was someone else’s responsibility.

The sky had turned to a dark blue, and he realized he’d been standing next to his car for almost an hour. She’d be waking up to make coffee and breakfast, soon. If he was going to go, the time had to be now. He took a deep breath, turned to his car, and—

“Steve? Honey?”

His grip on the car handle had tightened so hard that the door opened, and it almost knocked him off his feet. Biting his lip, he turned around, and there she was, standing at the front door.

“Where are you going at this hour?”

Just tell her. Tell her now, tell her you’re leaving, and that you won’t come back until you can provide for her, until you can stop being dead weight. Just say it, get into your car, and go. It was simple as that. He’d already played the scenario out in his mind countless times; all he had to do was say it.

He sighed. “Shelby.”

Shelby quirked an eyebrow. “Steve.”

“I have to go,” he said.

“Well, I figured that. Where are you going?”

“I’m going,” he said, “I’m going to go find a job, Shelbs.”

She shifted a little, and crossed her arms quickly—he knew this stance, and wondered if he hadn’t said it right. She smiled, furrowed her brow a little, and said, “Don’t tell me you’re going to an interview looking like you just woke up.”

He scratched the back of his neck and looked to the ground. “No, I mean, I…” he cleared his throat. “I’m leaving. I’m not coming back until I have a job. I can’t keep doing this,” he said. He bobbed up and down a little, and let his arms fall to his sides. “I can’t do this to you anymore. I hope you understand. I’m sorry.” He heard a sound—Christ, she’s crying, of course she’s crying—and hung his head in shame. He sighed, and looked up, only to see that she wasn’t crying. “I don’t think this is very funny.”

“God, you’re melodramatic, you know that?” she said, covering her mouth to hide her smile, and her teeth—a little trait he’d always found cute. “How many times did you rehearse that one?”

“Hey,” he said, cracking a smile, “this is serious. I mean it. I’m going to go get a job.”

“You have a job.”

“I mean a real one. I want to find a real job. I can’t live here until I can pay the bills.”

“Oh, really? And where will you go until you find a ‘real job,’ exactly? How will you eat?”

“I’ll, uh,” he said. He hadn’t really thought of that. “Maybe I could live off of cheap hot dogs or something.”

She shook her head, keeping her mouth covered. “What, did you just think you’d drive around from city to city, applying for jobs without food or clothes?” She paused. “Or my coffee?”

He bit his lip, fought the smile that was forming on his lips. How could he possibly leave this behind? He figured he wouldn’t have to courage to straight up leave anyway, but how could he even consider it?

Melodramatic. She’d used that word on him a lot, but for some reason she always found it funny rather than annoying. It summed him up pretty well, though.

“Listen. Why don’t you send your résumé to that museum just a few miles into town?”

“I tried that already, remember? They weren’t looking for anyone.”

“So try again. And try other places. There are plenty of places looking for art history buffs. You can’t just send your résumé out to like three places a month and give up when you don’t get a call.” She rubbed her arms a little and shivered.

He shut the car door. “Yeah. Yeah, I suppose you’re right,” he said. “I don’t really know what I was thinking.”

“Of course you didn’t, dear. That’s why you have me.”

He smirked, and stifled a laugh.

“Anyway, I think I can feel my eyes freezing. I’m going inside. Come in whenever you’re done feeling sorry for yourself, okay?”

He laughed out loud this time. “Sure, whatever you say Shelbs.” She turned, and he called out to her: “Four, by the way.”

“Wha-?” She faced him again.

“Four times. I rehearsed it four times.”

She stared at him for a moment, and then burst out laughing. “You actually rehearsed that? Holy poo poo,” she said. She stopped laughing and caught her breath. “Come inside. I’ll make us some coffee, if you want.”

“Coffee,” he said, rubbing his hands together to warm up. “Yeah. That sounds great.”

BlackFrost
Feb 6, 2008

Have you figured it out yet?


It's been a long time like three weeks, Dome. I've been itchin' for some hurtin', so I'm back for more.

In.

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BlackFrost
Feb 6, 2008

Have you figured it out yet?


Oh gently caress me, I completely forgot I signed up for this week. I have brought shame upon my family.

In an attempt to appease the gods of Thunderdome, I'll myself*: I am automatically in for the next round and will submit, for better or worse, regardless of the prompt.

*unless I'm like barred from participating for a while or something, I dunno how missing the deadline works.

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