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Bachelard Ass
Mar 26, 2009

Penetralium of mystery

This thread is dope and I'll be entering once I'm back from vacation. But just to check, are there any rules against stories in verse a la Autobiography of Red (Anne Carson)? I'll need to review the rules before entering, of course. And even then need some hand holding. Thanks and stay brave.

edit: New page. I know this is a fiction thread but gently caress it here's a link to probably my favorite poem. Consolation prize. You know.

Bachelard Ass fucked around with this message at 03:22 on Jun 11, 2013


Bachelard Ass
Mar 26, 2009

Penetralium of mystery

Right on. Thanks bud.

Bachelard Ass
Mar 26, 2009

Penetralium of mystery

In at risk of making my Thunderdebut on the torture rack.

Do epigrams count toward the word count?

Bachelard Ass fucked around with this message at 16:14 on Jun 18, 2013

Bachelard Ass
Mar 26, 2009

Penetralium of mystery

Submitted for the approval of the Thunderdome elite, haymakers of judgement:

Room 236
1499 words plus epigram, spoilered for judges' discretion.

The first we step into we call the infant or thoughtless Chamber, in which we remain as long as we do not think - We remain there a long while, and notwithstanding the doors of the second Chamber remain wide open, showing a bright appearance, we care not to hasten to it; but are at length imperceptibly impelled by awakening of the thinking principle - within us...

It’s important to get it all down before it’s gone for good, in case this time I can’t get back and tell you in person. This way maybe you’ll find it and know not to stay too long or, if you must, that you’ll leave your breadcrumb trail with something better than the matchbox cars and seashells I used, the ones the dodo I've named Omar likes to peck out of the sand and redistribute. I’m scared of forgetting, so I’m getting it all down. It’s been a long time, but now I’m ahead of myself, or behind. The sun is a hot pearl on the sky’s tongue today, as yesterday, so if I want to make progress I’ll have to hurry. If I try to keep going by the moon I might not get it right. And who knows what I’ll know come tomorrow morning.

Best to start at the beginning. I’m writing you with a bit of black-rock I found, crushed and heated over a small fire with a bit of water from the spring, making a kind of graphite ink I can dip into with the whittled end of a stick— and I know my handwriting isn’t so good, but I’m taking my time, even though there might not be much. It hurts my eyes to look up past the canopy where a half-dozen birds of paradise tumble from one limb to another, dancing in the day, but there are things we can’t help. They’re singing, which means it’s unlikely to rain. I’ll get a lot done today.


It’s possible you’d call the first time I went inside Room 236 a mistake. Aunt Kay would have, if she knew. She instructed me that morning to dust and vacuum all the rooms in the upstairs East Hall, make sure they all had toilet tissue, shampoo, soap, the oak tag card with some local telephone numbers on it, change the sheets if the sheets needed changing, and so on. Most important was the check that each nightstand’s Bible hadn’t gone missing or been defiled. For a lady with very little patience to begin with, it’s with irreverence that Aunt Kay had the least. Well, irreverence or Uncle Stu. What she had for me can’t so much be described as impatience but rather a quiet disgust that sometimes showed in her face.

Originally I thought it was because I’m not very much like Thomas, my brother, who is tall and athletic and played little league before we moved out here to live with Aunt Kay and Uncle Stu in the Galapagos Hotel, but now I think it’s just because of me. She never liked to look at me. Sometimes she forgot and something happened in her eyes. Thomas was good-looking enough to work the front desk, so I cleaned rooms. I often asked Thomas to play with me. We used to play together all the time before moving into the hotel, but now we don’t.

“Go outside or you’re going to be pale and soft forever,” he'd say. I argued that I was not pale and soft but he just went back to his sports magazine.

The morning I found Room 236 he barely looked at me, just waved a dismissive hand and said he had more important things to do and that Aunt Kay would kill him if he left the desk.

“That isn’t true!” I pushed back. “You know it isn’t.” And it wasn’t.

“C’mon kid,” he said, “don’t you have anything to do?”


Room 236 was at the end of the upstairs East hall and because it had no Do Not Disturb sign on its door handle I knocked, and when nobody answered tried the handle, which to my surprise clicked open without my needing to sift through my ring of key cards. Holding the door ajar with my foot, I wheeled my cart inside.

The room was bigger than it could have been, than would fit in between the walls. I didn’t recognize any of the paintings, one between the beds and two on the opposite wall. Each was a landscape and featured a bird at its center, around which the scenes orbited. Each brush-stroke seemed to predict the whole of the image, like each tree was made up by tinier tree-like motions, and still smaller.

But most unusual was a tiny button-like seashell in the middle of a desk underneath one of the paintings, as if it had been left there for the express purpose of me finding it. I picked the shell up and turned it over a couple times in my fingers before pocketing it. The shell was heavy in my pocket. Heavier was streak of villainy I felt for taking something that did not belong to me, but once I lifted the shell from the desk, the thought of putting it back on the desk was absurd.

I got out my dustrag and noticed that there was no dust anywhere, not even hanging in the air captured by the sunlight streaming in at the kind of angle that always catches a particle or two, but I dusted anyway, at a loss for what else to do inside the room that had closed in on me. But not in a threatening way. More like a greeting from a person you haven’t seen in a very long time. So long that you’ve forgotten what they smell like, which isn’t quite right, I realized as the comparison occurred to me, because the room didn’t smell like anything at all.


The elevator dinged open and I pushed my cart over the inch-or-so gap between the hallway’s floor and the elevator’s. It rattled in and I squeezed next to it. Across from me in the mirrored elevator was a crude boy-shaped blotch standing in the wall.

I’d finished my rounds early, before lunch. I usually wrap up in mid-afternoon. I passed Thomas at the front desk.

“Where have you been?” he asked. I had been where I always was. “You just missed breakfast.” This confused me. Not that Thomas hadn’t noticed me at breakfast. He rarely noticed me. But that he would suggest that breakfast was anything but hours ago.


If the first time I entered the room that shouldn’t have been there was a mistake, each subsequent visit must have been more so, but I couldn’t help myself. I started bringing toys to play with in the room, and each time there was a new seashell on the desk exactly where the first had been. The thing was, after I decided that I’d been in the room long enough and once again pushed my cleaning cart out the door, something new had changed.

The second time, I couldn’t find the elevator until I rounded a corner more than I had to in order to get to the room. Either playing in the room had caused me to pay less attention to where I was going, or the room had changed locations while I was inside it.

This was impossible, of course, but after my third morning hiding in the room, I opened the door and stepped right into the entrance foyer of the hotel. The room closed behind me as I stood motionless, stunned. Thomas looked up from yet another magazine, this one featuring a woman in a bathing suit on its cover.

“Can I help you?” he asked, rolling his eyes. “What? You seen a ghost, kid?” He waved his hands in the air and made a sound a ghost makes.

“I—,” I couldn’t find the words. “I— I have to show you something.”

“What’s going on out here?” Aunt Kay had emerged from the banquet room, Uncle Stu following glumly a step behind.

“Kid’s spooked about something,” Thomas replied, grinning evilly. “Maybe I should go check it out.”

“God save me,” Aunt Kay spat. “Fine. Five minutes, no more.”

Sprinting down the downstairs hallway and, after the longest elevator ride, the upstairs hallway leading to Room 236, I tried explaining in broken sentences what had happened. I stopped with a jerk in front of where the room had always been.

“It was right here!” I said, my voice shaking. I wanted to cry.

Thomas was already on his way back to the elevator. I watched him grow smaller as my stomach sank into my knees.

But when I looked back around, there it was, the inconspicuous door with its dull brass numbers: 236.

Angrily, I burst inside. The room had taken on a grim, aged appearance. Where there had previously been no dust, every surface was now caked with it. I recoiled, turned to flee and never come back, but when I swung open the door I was met by a burst of sunlight.

The smell of salt water pummelled my nose. Sand extended in front of me up to a thick line of trees hung with vines. A small grey dodo hopped once towards me.

“Doo-doo!” he said, cocking his head sideways.

Bachelard Ass fucked around with this message at 03:37 on Jun 24, 2013

Bachelard Ass
Mar 26, 2009

Penetralium of mystery

Eh, the prompt reminded me a lot of that Keats quote, so I went off that and had the whole impossible architecture thing work in tandem with an imagined result of a Maxwell's demon type experiment.

Bachelard Ass
Mar 26, 2009

Penetralium of mystery

Primarily the impossible architecture, for sure, here a literal rendering of two chambers that cannot share a physical universe but do, and the door between that can only be crossed by a very specific character. Way fun to think on and mess with.

Bachelard Ass
Mar 26, 2009

Penetralium of mystery

Shucks! Well thanks for da k.r.i.t. See ya next time.

Bachelard Ass
Mar 26, 2009

Penetralium of mystery

Down but not out. In.

Bachelard Ass
Mar 26, 2009

Penetralium of mystery

HOMEWORK: Someone is born, lives, and dies in 100 words.
100 words.

Jeremy was a difficult birth, a difficult child, and a difficult teenager. At seventeen he was arrested for shoplifting from the A&P that employed him, and for reselling cigarettes to local kids. He found a job in a run-down garage and it was there he heard his birth date read over the radio.

“How’s ya grades?” asked the head mechanic, overhearing.

Jeremy snorted. “Not good enough.”

Overseas, Jeremy killed three men and wounded six others before a bullet found his right lung. Terrific, thought Jeremy, collapsing to his knees, struggling to stay upright, fumbling for a lighter. Just terrific.

Bachelard Ass
Mar 26, 2009

Penetralium of mystery

Full Count
800 words

Steven slowed his pace for the final stretch of his walk to the restaurant, compensating for his nerves. He knew the trip took exactly the duration of “Foreplay/Long Time,” and he liked to arrive wherever he was going the moment the song he was listening to ended. It was his and Jenny’s third date. Around the third date was when things always went to poo poo.

Figuring Jenny would be about fifteen minutes late, Steven stuffed his earbuds into his back pocket and waited outside. He’d figured right, and soon spotted her crossing the street a block away wearing a short blue dress and what he guessed were some pretty serious shoes.

“Hey there,” he said when she approached. “Don’t you look awful.”

“Same to you,” Jenny replied, “What have you got on? Did you piss yourself just now?”

“You noticed!” Steven had bought a new, expensive cologne that afternoon.

They hugged each other for, he thought, at least a second longer than was just friendly.

“Really though, you look drat good.”

“You smell like flowers.”

At dinner, Steven listened to Jenny talk. He liked listening to Jenny talk. In fact, he liked everything about Jenny, from the playful antagonism of their greetings to how, when she got excited, her hair fell in her face and she reflexively brushed it back behind her ear.

Jenny had a lot to talk about. She worked for a non-profit and was involved in more community outreach and volunteer programs than Steven could keep track of. Maybe one day, Steven liked to imagine, they’d go on a trip together to rebuild houses or something, maybe teach underprivileged kids how to read or play baseball. He knew some guitar, he could have nightly "More Than a Feeling" sing-alongs. They could—

“Are you even listening to me?” Jenny was staring at him from across the table.

“Of course! Yeah, definitely. You were just saying how—”

“Oh, bullpoo poo,” Jenny interrupted, but now she was smiling. “I’ve been reciting the Nicene Creed for the last, like, hour. I got up to ‘one and Being and the Father’ but I forget the rest.”

“Sorry. You know. Long day and all.”

“It’s alright.” Her smile had shifted into a subtle grin. She finished what remained of her beer. “I think I’m set.”


“Yeah.” Jenny took a moment to look around the crowded restaurant, then turned back to Steven. “You live pretty close to here, right?”

They were half undressed by the time they made it into Steven’s living room. Jenny wrestled with his jeans button while he pinched at her bra-clasp.

A familiar heat started building pressure between Steven’s temples. This is it, he thought, trying to focus on kissing Jenny. It’s happening. No turning back, no running away. However it goes, it goes. At least soon he’d know.

She bit his shoulder, he bit her ear. She eased his zipper down and ran her fingers down his stomach, pausing a moment at his waistline, then slid her hand into his drawers and stopped.

“Steven.” She looked at him, wide-eyed.

“I can explain—”

“Do you—” She wiggled her fingers, causing Steven to wince, reminded of every physical exam he’d ever had. “Do you have three?

“The doctors said it’s not dangerous or anything, just a deform— it’s just different, you know? I work fine. It works fine— my dick, I mean—”

“Steven,” Jenny repeated, “what the gently caress.”

“An extra tank! A spare, uh, a spare.” Steven attempted a feeble laugh that came out like a chicken clucking.

“Are you kidding me?” Jenny withdrew her hand, went to brush her hair behind her ear, changed her mind, and instead held it away from her. “Think about Lance Arm— think about the Chernobyl kids! Some of them only have one! One weird one. Or none! Zero!”

Jenny took a step back, then a half step forward. “You have extra! Don’t you think that’s selfish? Did you ever even try to donate it?”

“I don’t think it works that way,” Steven stammered, but Jenny was already pulling her dress back on, adjusting the straps, and looking for her shoes.

“I’m sorry,” she said, snatching her bag off the floor, “I thought you were different from other guys, I really did. Selfless, generous— you were a Boy Scout!”

Steven had been kicked out of Boy Scouts as a Tenderfoot for trying to set fire to a boy who wrote “Boston Sux” in Sharpie on Steven’s woodworking project.

“I can’t do this.”

“Jenny, I—”

But she was already out the door, not bothering to close it behind her.

Steven didn’t move for several seconds, still unzipped. Finally he sighed, shut the door, and waddled to the bathroom where he plucked first two, then a third 3 ply Kleenex from the box by the toilet.

Bachelard Ass fucked around with this message at 02:04 on Jul 1, 2013

Bachelard Ass
Mar 26, 2009

Penetralium of mystery

Thanks for the crit, Kaishai! There's a long climb ahead, but I'm pleased to have made it off the bottom.

I don't have time this week to type feedback for everyone, but if someone wants to pair off, gimme a holla.

Erogenous Beef posted:

However, you got maybe half the threes. I've explained them all in the farm.


Bachelard Ass
Mar 26, 2009

Penetralium of mystery

Grade 4-6

[Write a to-do list for] [a depressed] [movie star] [who ages 20 years in one day.]

Bachelard Ass
Mar 26, 2009

Penetralium of mystery

Well, my power keeps going out today, so I better post this before I can't at all!

Perfect Day
Write a to-do list for a depressed movie star who ages 20 years in one day.
1293 words

Ever since he was a boy, Tom Cruise was a list-maker. The first he could remember was in letter form to Santa Claus at age 7. The wish-list included an Evel Knievel action figure, an air hockey table, a new bicycle, and The Game of Life. He did not receive any of those gifts that Christmas. When his father found him looking gloomy later Christmas afternoon he swatted Tom hard on the head and told him that real men didn’t pussy-cry about toys. Tom wrote another list that day, of gift requests in letter form to God, #1 of which was that God take his father far away. It took God a little while, but a couple years later Tom’s father was dead and Tom never stopped writing.

By 13, Tom had written many lists. Girls he wanted to kiss, athletes who were the best ever, ways to torment his teachers, etc. But most importantly, Tom perfected the template by which he lived the rest of his life, “Tom’s Perfect Day To-Do List.” This was the list:

1. Breakfast
2. Exercise
3. Work
4. Make connections
5. Pray

It was simple, but it did the trick, and he followed it without fail every day until he died.

January 15, 2021. 12:00 a.m.

The electronically-programmed shades in Tom’s bedroom window snapped open, letting in a wave of icy sunlight at the same time the morning news appeared on the wall across from his bed. President Davis going on about the war. Tom rolled over onto his face, but not before croaking “mute,” silencing the president.

There was a time when Tom breakfasted with enthusiasm— devouring egg whites, ham, bacon, protein shakes, even steak— at exactly 6:45 a.m. Lately though, once he managed to stagger into his kitchen, his breakfast consisted of a large mug half filled with black coffee and topped off with vanilla flavored vodka, two Hershey’s kisses, and a third of an orange, maybe.

Tom stared into his coffee-vodka. He felt even lousier than usual. Over the past two years, Tom had developed a tolerance for the morning hangover. Or at least for the morning hour of hangover before he pushed it out of himself with more booze. “Hair of the dog,” he joked into the empty apartment. Today he recoiled at the mug’s smell, choking back an acidic heave. With some hesitation, he sipped, then poked at the breakfast counter. It blipped aglow. “Good morning, Mr. Cruise,” the countertop sang. “Would you like headlines, weather, scores...” He poked it again and it went blank.

1:33 p.m.

Drunk, Tom rolled out a yoga mat and plopped down to squeeze out some crunches, an abridged routine compared to the multiple-page spreadsheets he kept as a younger man. After three wobbling crunches, he collapsed onto his back, sore and sweating. Struggling with a fourth, he noticed that his knees were shaking. Grabbing them, he saw his hands. The skin was spotty and loose, like the bones in his fingers could break through at any moment. He shook his head and tried to rise, but instead fell backwards. A dizzying pain shot up from his tailbone.

Stumbling into the bathroom, Tom caught his reflection in the mirror above the sink. He looked wretched, wrinkled, sickly. His hair was completely gone. This is ridiculous, he thought. He’d just gotten his hair styled and dyed the day before.

“gently caress. Fucker! I’m Nathan Algren! I’m Maverick! I’m Ethan loving Hunt...”

Two years before, the Mission Impossible franchise had been rebooted. Hunky up-and-comer Rico Rodriquez was cast as the lead.

3:05 p.m.

“This is Bruce.” Finally.

“Ah, uh. Hey Bruce, it’s Tom. How, mm, how are ya?”

“poo poo, Tom,” said Bruce Willis. His was the 17th number Tom called, not including Katie’s, which Tom dialed but hung up midway through the first ring. “What do you want?”

“Sorry to bother you, man,” Tom fumbled, “I’d have called Alan, but you know...” As the words escaped him, Tom knew they were foolish. He’d been blacklisted by Hollywood’s elite for no-showing Alan Arkin’s funeral. “Anyway Bruce, something weird is happening to me. Something really weird.”

“I’m busy, Tom. What do you want?”

“I think I’m losing it, Bruce. I need to get back in the game. I think being away’s got me all backwards. You wouldn’t believe— Well, I mean— I mean poo poo, man... Hey, let’s make a movie. I’ve got ideas...”

Tom Cruise kept a list of plots to imaginary films he’d like to star in.

1. Tom Cruise plays a super-genius backgammon master who uncovers a dark secret.
2. Tom Cruise plays a sexy detective on a time adventure to find the real William Shakespeare.
3. Tom Cruise plays the quirky love interest in a comedy romance between a woman addicted to cola and the man who restocks her office vending machine.
4. Tom Cruise plays Batman.
5. Tom Cruise plays LeBron James alongside The Muppets in Space Jam 2: Beyond the Arc.

And so on.

“Goodbye, Tom.”

“C’mon Bruce—”

But the line was dead.

6:25 p.m.

The safest refuge from the freeze outside Tom’s secret Queens apartment was an exclusive basement bar at, well, it’s really exclusive. Maintaining secrecy, for both Tom and the bar, which catered to rich and famous recluses like Tom, required a less than chic neighborhood.

Tom sat on his usual stool, rubbing his fingers hard over the loose skin on his bald head, trying to piece together what was happening. Who was responsible for this?

He’d had to stop to catch his breath no less than four times on the two-block walk to the bar, once coughing with such violence that a young couple steered their daughter across the street to avoid him, murmuring and shaking their heads. What’s more, convinced that his sudden deterioration was all in his head, upon entering the bar he’d immediately prowled over to a pair of middle-aged but done-up socialites and leveled lines from his list of ladykillers at them.

They’d reacted, Tom realized, squeezing the bridge of his nose, which felt like Play-Doh, with predictable revulsion.

“What’re we havin’?” asked Enrique, the bartender.

“The usual,” replied Tom.

“Ah, sir. Not sure I know what that is.” Tom looked up and Enrique jumped back, mortified. “Yeeeezus Christ. You look like that ni— you look like Voldemort!”

“Probably make it a double.”

11:07 p.m.

If Tom Cruise had ever been this drunk, he couldn’t remember it. Actually, he didn’t remember much at all. After a few hours at the bar, he’d been reduced to barking “I’m Tom Cruise!” at anyone who came near him.

Now he couldn’t even remember the way to his apartment. He snaked around the cold, dark streets, stumbling and breaking into coughing fits that left him all but paralyzed.

Rounding a corner, he spotted a pair of thuggish looking guys approaching him. Wheeling around, two more appeared behind him. Losing track of his feet, he tripped. It only took one boot knock him onto his front on the sidewalk.

“Get the old gently caress's poo poo! Quick!” The group rifled through Tom’s pockets and gave him one more kick for good measure before running off.

Tom struggled to his knees, looked up, and a glowing figure stood before him.

“I gave you plenty of chances, Tom. America gave you plenty of chances.”

“A-Alan Arkin?”

“That’s right. Some selfishness is grown out of, or learned from. But you? Well. You’ll have plenty of time to think about it.”

And then he was gone. Tom’s eyelids fluttered. He tried to speak to the Supreme Being but nothing came. He tried to come up with a list of things that dying felt like. “loving lousy,” he hacked.

Bachelard Ass fucked around with this message at 22:07 on Jul 7, 2013


Bachelard Ass
Mar 26, 2009

Penetralium of mystery

Thanks Bad Seafood, and of course the judges (all yall) who have been slogging through my prose. Sincerely, I appreciate it. I am not in this week, for a couple reasons, but I'll be back.

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