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Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


V for Vegas posted:

Sailing close to the wind there BS.
Some people like to stand in the rain without an umbrella. That's what it means to live free.

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Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


Bad Seafood posted:

To be clear, if you submit tonight, before midnight, the initial constraints of the challenge are still in effect. If you submit anytime tomorrow, Sunday, you are reduced to a word ceiling of 1,000 words you absolutely may not go over for any reason. Should you submit Monday, 800 words; Tuesday, 600; Wednesday, 400. If Friday hits and neither of you have submitted anything, the bell tolls for both you. Should only one of you submit, they will be declared the winner by default over the entire contest, disregarding the standing of previous rounds.
Dawn of the final day.

24 hours remain.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


sebmojo posted:

How many words am I down to?
The single most amazing 200 words I have ever read in my entire life.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


Someone Who Is Not A Judge posted:

Making a judgement call.
Thanks for the update, chief.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


sebmojo posted:

This is a good conversation; take it to Fiction Farm if y'all want to continue it.

Doc Kloc, are me and Sitting Here gonna get judged?
The Mysterious Mystery Judge of Mystery™ is taking their sweet time. A verdict will probably be reached sometime this weekend. Hold your horses.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


Business Before Pleasure (505 words)

EDIT: Fiddled with the indentation. For some reason everything on the second page was too far over.

Bad Seafood fucked around with this message at 08:44 on Oct 28, 2013

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


Those of you interested in actually having your submissions read and not just crumpled up and tossed in a trash bin should take a moment to familiarize yourself with proper manuscript format.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


Nubile Hillock posted:

fuckin' in gently caress, I fuckin guess
Sup' baby Chill, how about a flash rule?

Your story may not contain profanity of any description, not even mom and pop favorite goshes and darns.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


Nubile Hillock posted:

Why yes sir Mister Seafood sir I would like another flash rule.
Sure thing, Brojack.

Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia that Anyone Can Edit posted:

[H]ero (male) and heroine (female) [have come to] refer to characters who, in the face of danger and adversity or from a position of weakness, display courage and the will for self sacrifice—that is, heroism—for some greater good of all humanity. This definition originally referred to martial courage or excellence but extended to more general moral excellence.
This is your protagonist.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


All's quiet in the dome. Too quiet. Time for a flash bounty.

A flash what?

It's a term I just made up okay shut up.

So what is it?

A flash bounty is like a flash rule, except instead of having it thrust upon you anyone can accept it. Success with your flash bounty entails certain nebulous benefits, whereas failure, well, can't spoil all the fun now can I? Although anyone can claim a flash bounty, only one person can cash it in, so this is on a first come first serve basis.

Bad Seafood posted:

Quote it if you want it.
Finally, no matter how many bounties are posted, you can only accept one at a time.

Alright, let's get started.

WANTED: An aging David Bowie as an important secondary character.

WANTED: A mythical beast from non-Eurasian mythology.

WANTED: A story inspired by this song.

Bad Seafood fucked around with this message at 23:34 on Nov 1, 2013

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


Mercedes posted:

gently caress it. BadSeaFood, you've crossed me one too many times. I find myself dealing with a little bit of an anger issue right now and you're going to catch the brunt of it.

Are you going to brawl me or will you bitch out and run to your stupid police dogs.

Kaishai posted:

It's funny you should mention a music video!

Mercedes vs. Bad Seafood Thunderbrawl: Let the Music Play

Mercedes, you didn't have much luck with last week's music prompt; Bad Seafood, you didn't have a chance to show your mettle. Let's see whether redemption or pride is possible. I challenge each of you to pick a song with a video available online. Seafood may not choose "Alcohol Is Free," but nothing else is off limits. Write a story on the theme of regret that incorporates elements of the song, the video, or both, and make sure your entry includes a link to your source of inspiration.

Maximum word count: 800 words
Deadline: Wednesday, November 13, 11:59pm US Eastern

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


So I almost got killed in a car crash last night and your terrible submissions were nearly the last thing I ever read. Savor that.

Roguelike - Little Drummer Girl

I like how your gut instinct when told not to write about some guy getting the band together was to write about some guy getting the band together IN THE FUTURE, see, so it's totally genre. Nice try. Or not, since I guess you also cribbed someone's class notes on the Book of Revelation but left out all the interesting bits. But we're getting too cosmic here, so let's hash out the details. You've got two young adults allegedly in Neo-China (not that anything besides your telling us would suggest that), neither of whom have names, histories, or personalities worth remembering, and a protagonist who punches out her friend to protect him from challenging the authority of the powers that be only to decide to challenge them (subtly) herself not ten minutes after. Okay. I'd also like to add I've never attended a church service that went longer than an hour and some change, nor seen a hymn book that couldn't kill a cat from the top of the stairs, but it's THE FUTURE so what do I know?

HOMEWORK: Religious missionaries on an alien world, though what religion is up to you. No caricatures, 500 words.

STONE OF MADNESS - The Bonedrum

I LIKED THIS, BUT THEN YOU SHOT YOURSELF IN THE FOOT BY TURNING IT INTO A CONAN FANFIC IN THE LAST COUPLE SENTENCES. WAY TO TRIP UP AT THE FINISH LINE. VERY PURPLE, BUT I THINK IT WORKS, THOUGH I ENJOY AN IMPLICIT NARRATIVE; MANY PEOPLE DON'T. OVERALL SOLID DESPITE YOUR RELIANCE ON MY DEEPLY HATED PRESENT TENSE.

HOMEWORK: An epic quest in ten sentences.

Fraction - The Games

You had a tough act to follow and you didn't. Your story gets lost in its own mythos, too many things alluded to without context for us to imagine what they could be, though bits and pieces can be discerned. Honestly, your protagonist strikes me as a whiner, and STONE OF MADNESS already used up all my patience for people who write in the present tense so you're out of luck. Echo Cian opted to read your story a second time to glean the most out of it, but I couldn't be bothered to care even that much, and that's coming from a guy who loves to carry water. Next.

HOMEWORK: A boy becomes a man in 500 words. No trial by blood stuff.

Tyrannosaurus - Slave

When I finished reading this I turned to Echo and said, "I hope this is a metaphor for an instrument or something." She told me it was a guitar and I breathed a sigh of relief. Music and sensuality go together well, but this is just tasteless. Rape and urination. There's also your italicized asides which don't help as much as you think they do (though they helped a little). It's not a terrible piece, but it's about some terrible stuff which detracts from your mood and tone. Dissonant serenity requires a lot of care, and you fumbled it. I feel like I need a shower.

HOMEWORK: A carpenter whittles toys in his spare time that nobody buys. Tell me about him. 500 words. Again.

Chairchucker - God from the (Tin) Machine

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xAAGh-3sw0

HOMEWORK: A sequel.

Quidnose - Etude #44

Now this was a nice little piece. Unfortunately, pianos don't age as well as you seem to think they do. Also unfortunately, not genre even in the slightest.

HOMEWORK: Fae politics, as informed by the art of Brian Froud. You have 2,000 words. No humans allowed.

Erogenous Beef - Sharp Harmony

Obtuse.

HOMEWORK: A simple story about simple people whose simple lives are interrupted by something complicated. 700 words.

Inthesto - Duet

This could've been pretty spiffy with a few revisions. It also could have been about rap wizards. As it, though, it's a bit cramped and a bit stilted, and the imagery of this dude writing his compositions in his own blood loses much of its potency. Apparently this guy is supposed to be a necromancer or something, Echo told me, but I saw the whole composing for his dead father thing as figurative rather than literal since that's usually how these things go. Still, for something cobbled together, it sort of works. Get DukeRustfield to hook you up with his editor.

HOMEWORK: A woman running her family's shop refuses orthodox payment. What does she accept? 500 words minimum, 1,000 words maximum.

Fumblemouse - 'Dimension' for Strings

This made my shortlist though the other judges nixed it. Very Bradburian now that I look back on it, people and music, technology, et cetera. Your ending in particular left me with a strong impression. I didn't fully understand what you were going for, but it felt right, like it was the only way it could end. Schrodinger's submission. In another universe you would have won.

HOMEWORK: The conclusion to a murder mystery, followed by the murder. Yes. The butler must not have done it in 1,200 words.

Kaishai - Music to Draw By

Now a Lifetime Original. Actually a pretty sweet story, with a nice blend of reality with the fantastic. Magical realism if you want to call it that, and a mysterious sense of purpose that heightens the story rather than detracts from it, even when we don't have all the answers.

HOMEWORK: Two people speaking different languages misunderstand one another through their music. 300 words ought to be enough.

Mercedes - 237

"The bad news is your mother is dying. The good news is you have a great rack."

HOMEWORK: A tragedy forces two people who hate each other to come to terms. 237 words.

Ronnie_Long - Do Robots Dream of LeAnn Rimes?

Snore. Linking music with emotions can be a powerful thing, but you totally squandered it. It works simply because it works and you provide no good reason why. What you do provide is a lot of exposition for a world ripe for being one day conquered by autistic robot caretakers, which would have at least been more engaging than what you actually managed to produce. Human-robot relations have been done to death, so if you're going to make it the centerpiece of your story (as opposed to a footnote), you need to bring something new to the table.

HOMEWORK: Robot society long after the extinction of humans. 500 words.

Schneider Heim - Take Me Home

You missed a golden opportunity to call this the Nudist Lutist. But even if you had, we'd still only have a story where things happen because it says so in the script. This feels like an excerpt of something larger except it fails to make me interested in what that something is. Needless to say it barely stands on its own. Trite conclusion.

HOMEWORK: A battle of the bands ends in disaster. 1,000 words.

Docbeard - The Day the Music Died

I read this and have no idea what it's about. Not because it's confusing or complicated, though it might be, but because of how it all just washed over me like bobbing for apples in a tar pit. So dry, so dull. I'm sure if I read it again I could glean more from it, but I honestly have no desire to do so.

HOMEWORK: Two old friends reminisce between a wedding and a funeral for about 500 words. Soft limit.

Helsing - It's a Bitch Convincing People to Like You

I expected more from a Faustian bargain. And self-awareness, how post-modern of you. There are some fun ideas here but the execution is slipshod. Not sure you really did the song justice either.

HOMEWORK: Hell's Accountant walks the Earth for 600 words.

Jeza - Blood and Tequila

Welcome to the Hotel California.
Such a lovely place.
Such a lovely face.
Plenty of room at the Hotel California.
Any time of year,
You can find it here.

But yeah, good job man. I dug it. Exactly what I was hoping for.

HOMEWORK: A lone survivor shares his story, insisting it wasn't his fault. It was. 1,000 words.

DasNasty - Ballad of the Cicadas

That's some fierce mood whiplash, son. You've got cicadas and fields and forests and then the bombs dropped and you were the only survivor and oh God oh God the humanity. So a bunch of stuff happened and a bunch of people died and who knows and who cares. They've only been fighting these people for three years yet our protagonist has no idea what's going on? Not even at street level? Even if he doesn't care about the wider world around him, people tend to talk about that kind of thing, unless the point is that he's mentally deficient somehow.

HOMEWORK: An aging fighter pilot finds an excerpt from the diary he kept while flying in the war. He only has 800 words left to live.

Bad Seafood fucked around with this message at 06:05 on Nov 7, 2013

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


You brought in the trash, now take it out again.

Goodboy (635 words)

Maxwell Harrison stepped in from the cold, brushing the snow from his cap and uniform. Officer Harrison: his badge, his uniform. It was the only thing he had now.

The cantina had no name that he was aware of. Filed away perhaps, listed in some deed lost in a landfill. The bar had no sign, no beautiful girls to welcome you as you walked in the door. Only a single asterisk, a lone star, dotted the napkins and stationary. Whenever people said they were going to The Bar, they meant here.

The cantina was run by two old hound dogs, Toto and the Duke. First names, last names, nicknames, who knew. Toto was a tall glass of water with a meticulously maintained Frank Zappa mustache. The Duke was a dwarf who smiled but never spoke. Their relationship was complicated.

Toto turned from the bar, but Harrison waved him off. He didn’t feel like talking. He took his usual stool and stared at the military formation of glass bottles that littered the northern wall. The Duke brought him whisky. He pushed it away. The Duke brought him coffee. He didn’t touch it. The place was empty save for them and old Alexei Sayle asleep in the corner booth.

The bottles entranced Harrison, amber and emerald, a memory reflected in each. In the amber bottles he saw his wife. In the emeralds between them, he only saw Her.

Harrison’s wife was a wonderful woman, if a bit clinical. She’d been a nurse, so Harrison understood. He worked days and she worked nights, and they were together in the mornings and the evenings. It was a practical relationship. They’d never had kids, though not for lack of trying. They wouldn’t adopt. They wanted one of their own. She’d quit when they had kids, and he’d work harder to make up the difference.

Then he’d met Her. Her. She was different, a free spirit. She scratched him behind the ears and called him a good boy. She liked to dance in the rain without an umbrella, collect insects, and dye her hair outrageous colors. When they’d first met, it was blue. When they last met, it was blue again. A real strange beast she was.

When Harrison’s wife found out she said nothing. She didn’t get angry, so Harrison got angry. She didn’t cry, so Harrison cried. She stood there quietly, waiting for him to subside. His own words still rang in his ears, a lingering chorus to the dimly-lit evening.

“You need to know where I’m coming from!”

In retrospect, he didn’t know why he’d said that. What was there to know? He cheated on her.

He pleaded with her as she left. She turned at the door and looked him in the eyes.

“I don’t even know who you are.”

She was gone. Forever? For now at least. He retreated to his lover’s embrace, but when he explained she tore into him. So that was the story behind the ring in his pocket. She kicked him and hit him and locked him out of her apartment. He realized then he’d never asked her name.

After awhile the memories faded, and Harrison saw only himself reflected against the display of bottles, his long, tired features exaggerated. A basset hound. He scratched behind his ear. He didn’t say good boy.

There was movement to his left. A woman with short, curly hair and a cigarette holder now occupied the stool. He took one look at her and knew everything he needed to know.

“You an officer?” she asked him.

“No ma’am. I’m just a dog.”

“All men are dogs,” she said. “But some are good dogs. Are you?” She winked.

He drifted for a moment before answering. “No.” He paid for his coffee and returned to the cold.




















https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0359hSerDeE

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


sebmojo posted:

Quidnoes I will destroy you in 500 words or less.

WHO WILL JUDGE
Tonight on Pro Thunderbawl: Sebastian Moran Johnson vs. Fifty Quid on the Nose

Alright you two, listen up. I want a nice clean fight and a story about revenge, which like all good medicine should convey something about revenge. Its poignancy, futility, longevity, whatever. You have 500 words and until 11:59 PM PST Wednesday, November 20th.

But why stop there?

Sebmojo: You are permitted to tell me everything about the reckoning except the reckoning itself. Beforehand, after, everything else is kosher.

Quidnose: Yours is an inherited hate. From father to son, tribe against tribe, your call. Whatever the reason, whatever the grudge, at least one of your players must not hail from the original parties involved. Interpret however you see fit.

Bad Seafood fucked around with this message at 23:32 on Nov 13, 2013

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


Nests (551 words)

Grandfather. Grandfather. Tell me about the birds.

Yuri peeled his weathered eyes. Again Sasha traced the request into his hand.

Grandfather. Grandfather. Tell me about the birds.

They were sitting at a bench, the boy in his lap. They'd brought a bag of peanuts which lay scattered among the leaves. The leaves, Yuri smiled. Sasha had been fascinated by them for a time. Turning them, inspecting them, rubbing them between his fingers. Now he wanted to know about the birds. A reasonable request. They had after all come down to the zoo.

Again Sasha signed, and Yuri closed his hand around the boy's. Sasha smiled and looked up at him, eyes wide and unseeing. Yuri smiled back and ruffled his grandson's hair.

"So you want to know about the birds?" he said as he signed. He spoke for himself. It helped him to focus. Sasha paid close attention to the shape and form of his grandfather's fingers. At last he understood, and nodded to confirm.

Yuri looked from his grandson to the cage. It was a black and wretched thing. The iron bars were coarse and decaying and weak, the bricks at the base each faded and loose. Yuri didn't feel the need to communicate these things to his grandson. He whet his lips with his tongue and told him what he wanted to hear.

He told him about the birds.

"A good dozen of them, this one. Fair few more than the other. All different colors this time, blue and some gold. There's a few of them there, flittering around the cage like madmen. Trying to escape. The rest save their strength, gathered among the branches. Older and wiser. They know they know best."

What kind of tree is it?

"The tree?"

The tree was bent and sickly, its branches gnarled and reaching, clawing for something it would never have again. The interior of the cage had been cleared of leaves. Yuri briefly wondered whether it had any to begin with.

"It's a fine old tree. Strong and proud. It's lost the last of its leaves, but looks no leaner for the loss. Looks to be older than me even, older than grandma. I think if it could think, it would be happy where it is."

Sasha laughed. It was a painful sound that echoed in Yuri's ears and in his heart. The boy closed his eyes and leaned into his grandfather's beard. Yuri was to continue.

"Two birds in particular I see. Very handsome. The male bobs his head to the female, puffs his chest. She seems taken with him. Now they've started to circle the cage. I think perhaps we should leave them be. Allow them some privacy."

We should!

Sasha slid off his grandfather's lap and turned expectantly, staring at nothing. Slowly, Yuri stood and stretched, his old bones aching, his heart a bit lighter. Sasha extended his hand and Yuri took it, gesturing for the boy to lead him where he would. It did not matter. The bench behind them, Yuri allowed himself one last glance to the cage. The far side had burst open long ago, and the management had never gotten around to fixing it. But still he remembered it, back in its prime. It brought him some warmth that Sasha would too.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


Another victory for the Dog Police.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


Erogenous Beef posted:

* A jaunty, yet disturbing, ditty which reveals something about the character(s) who like it - think Psycho Dad
* Pirate radio changes (or has changed) the life of someone.
Yoink.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


inthesto posted:

Hiding the facts from your doesn’t-know-poo poo, might-be-Hellen-Keller grandson is a cute vehicle, but you’re really beating us over the head with the collapse of the Soviet Union thing.
You crib a couple foreign names and all of a sudden you're writing about the collapse of an old world superpower. I had no idea I'd written something so ambitious.

Speaking of which, QUIDNOSE, the man who would challenge the gods, and SEBMOJO, the god in question, it's time for your THUNDERBRAWL RESULTS POST.

THE PROMPT

Write some stuff about revenge in a way that doesn't make me hate you (protip: you both dropped the ball on at least one of these).

THE SUBMISSIONS

Hosana In Excelsis - Quidnose

Boy oh boy it's a good thing you misread the prompt and submitted this immediately or else you might have actually had to do some research into theological matters that didn't involve flipping through old Gary Larson cartoons (I love that one where it's Colonel Sanders at the Pearly Gates with the chickens). You might have also churned out something with a little more meat to it than a riff off the Hatfield and McCoy feud with the subtlety of a having a staring contest with an oncoming double-decker greyhound bus (seriously, the Colonel is just like standing there, and there are these two chicken statues with no caption and you're like "Oh man"). Your prose was solid and made good use of some light black humor, but in the end the dish was not up to the level of expert preparation that went into it (it's like, HA, how ironic, of course it would be chickens). The guy who mans the Pearly Gates is Saint Peter by the way, don't know if you've heard of him (Cause you know he's going to Hell but they don't say anything, that's an economy of words).

~Intermission~

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kxopViU98Xo

Getting Cut - Sebmojo

Aw yeah we're on the inside now boyos, hard men doing hard time all the time. Just like in the movies. That's how it works on the inside. You've got some good dialogue here, which is important as its mostly what carries your story besides the rugged good looks of your punctuation. Got a bit hazy at points with what exactly was going on in a way that made me have to reread it but not in a way that made me hate being literate. Some light description, a lot said unsaid, and how did you know I love open endings; feels like it's my birthday. There's some real weight here and I don't mean whatever those sittin' prettyboys are benching. You really get the sense Simon is in over his head on this one, and over just a few choice words ("Knife him," "Don't knife him"). There's gonna be consequences either way, and there's never gonna be the same.

THE VERDICT




















Sebmojo wins though I guess I did spoil that yesterday in IRC, oops.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


Eh, long as we're up.

A Metaphor for the Soviet Union (370 words)

A man has a terrifying dream in which he is being sawn in half. He wakes to find himself in the Indian Ocean, naked and clinging to a door; a hotel keycard is clenched in his teeth. Write what happens next.

The door was a sturdy mahogany inlaid with brass, a true classic: the Audrey Hepburn of doors. Richard's fingers traced the fine wood paneling as he struggled to stay afloat, eyes blinking, his lungs full of saltwater. He discerned the words LED ZEPPELIN SUCKS scratched an inch beneath the handle, a brazen declaration immortalized crudely in penknife. Even lost at sea there was no escaping the plebeians.

"Oy! Oy!" a voice called out to him. Irish, female. "Outta the water!"

Richard turned from the burning, smoldering wreckage of the ship to the sea, the horizon. There bobbed a bed of similar elegance, stripped of upholstery, its lone female occupant naked and shivering, an industrial strength umbrella clutched to her chest. She was short-haired and irritated, her umbrella black as per company standard.

"Oy! Are ya deaf? Get outta the water! It's not safe!"

Something dark loomed beneath the waves. Richard kicked his feet and felt something erogenous. It all came back to him in a rush. The cruise. The party. The siren. The antlers.

Richard released his grip on the beloved door of his youth of five minutes ago. He made for the woman, the safety of her bed and the shelter of her umbrella. Like spears his arms burst from the surface of the water, dragging him closer and closer towards his salvation, and a very probable romantic comedy deal after all was said and done. Rated R for gratuitous nudity, hers and his.

He had been a champion swimmer in his collage days, but the gut of age and executive marking had taken their toll on the old boy. He had scarcely made it halfway to the bed when the ocean erupted in salt and sea spray, the twin antlers that had heralded the end of his vacation rising now to usher him to his fate. Richard hung back, his breathing coarse, his heart sinking, resigned. Before him loomed the balding, bearded face of Erogenous Beef, Lord of the Sea. Erogenous Beef regarded him with cold, uncaring eyes, his great maw clicking, clacking, opening wide.

Richard screamed. The keycard to Room 408 of the California Royal was forever lost to the deep.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


Disturbing ditty, pirate radio, write or die.

Good Help (870 words)

Penny for an eye
Penny for an eye
You won't die
Just a penny for an eye


Diana Fitzgerald was a lovely young woman before you got to know her. She kept a number of small service bells littered about the front desk of her back-alley establishment, the sound of a single one of which was enough to summon her within seconds of the ring. Footsteps would follow, a click of undiscernible origin, and out would step Diana from one of the many connecting doorways. Today it was the large, stately one with fingernail scratches down the inside. She shut the door behind herself, her face bright and earnest with the glow one might have associated with a young girl working at a flower shop. Diana kept no flowers. She had no use for them. On whatever occasion she would receive one she would thank the giver kindly and then drop it in the garbage.

"Ah, Mister Marduk and his associate. It has been awhile now hasn't it?"

Marduk was a simple man. He had a very specific classification system he applied to everyone, with all things and all people falling under one of three distinct castes: obstacles, appliances, nuisances. Diana was an appliance, as was his esteemed colleague of seven weeks, his associate, this time a towering man of great strength and sharp-cut features. In time his associate would degrade to a nuisance, and he would have to be replaced. Marduk didn't mind, and neither did Diana. It allowed her to meet new people, something she was never very good at.

"Miss Fitzgerald," Marduk removed his hat in her presence, "You are ever the picture of loveliness. I regret, it has been some time. Hopefully our visit will afford us a chance to catch up."

Diana smiled to Marduk and his associate. She didn't ask his associate's name. She had learned awhile back that would seldom prove necessary. Of more pressing concern was the hefty looking bag the associate carried over his shoulder. Diana's eyes grew, her hands clasped.

"Goodness me, I should hope that's only one. I'm afraid I won't have time if it's anything more."

"Just the one," Marduk assured her. "Just a big one."

Diana nodded, a certain streak of determination in her expression. Sleeves rolled up past the elbow, she made a short circuit of the room, checking the locks and the one window. It was snowing outside. She hadn't noticed. She made a mental note to pack something warmer for her trip to the market after.

With great care she removed each and every service bell from the desk and arranged them tidily before the drawn curtain. There were seventeen in all, each with a name Diana told no one. As she moved them she continued the ongoing tune she was known to hum, a strange little melody of her own invention. Sometimes it was simply that. Other times it had words.

Ma'll beat ya
Dad'll teach ya
But I won't lie
Just a penny for an eye


Marduk spied one of the clocks on the wall, of which there were three. Diana finished rolling out the butcher paper and sat down, leaning forward, her hands together, anticipation in her gaze.

"Come now," she said to the associate, "Don't be shy."

There was the briefest of hesitations. Marduk elbowed his associate, who blinked and nodded and laid the bag before the woman. Diana snapped her fingers and from a side draw retrieved an impressive knife of significant size. Gently, she opened the bag.

"Tsk tsk, oh Marduk, you've made a mess of this one. Not much salvageable this time I'm afraid."

"It was an accident, but unfortunately necessary. Work comes before kickbacks."

"A respectable philosophy to hold. Still, not much to appraise."

The man before he was fat and well dressed, his throat cut in a jagged line. A bullet had punctured one of his eyes as well, and his knuckles were bruised and bloody. Diana examined his good eye and teeth. Her cheerful disposition had soured a little. She clicked her tongue. There wouldn't be much out of this at all. She always hated it when she failed to be useful. Unlike many of her competitors, she had not had the good fortune to be born into the family business. It had been an errant transmission that had led her down this path, a radio station that no longer functioned, and every time she came up short she always feared it was her upbringing.

"What's the damage?"

"He's got a good eye and some teeth. There's still hope for the organs. Lungs?"

"He was a smoker."

"Terrible habit. Liver?"

"Also a drinker."

"Well, not like we're missing much without him on the streets," Diana nodded to herself. The knife she held was large, yet she wielded it with precision. The knife like the service bells had a name, but this one she wasn't too shy about using. "Let ol' Brother check you out then. Might be something we can use." A clinical silence enveloped the room, interrupted only brief with the reprisal of a verse.

Bro'll greet ya
Sis'll keep ya
And she won't lie
Just a penny for an eye

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


Fumblemouse posted:

Judges: FumbleMouse and some other people who know in their hearts who they are, but have yet to openly acknowledge it.
How's tricks.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


Submissions are closed. Technically they closed an hour ago, but who's counting?

(Hint: It's me)

Quidnose, Sebmojo, Mercedes, My Dead Gay Son, Optimus Primal Rage, the Most Disappointing Rhino, and the Lackluster7 are all failures, but at least they're man enough to come clean. Muffins, Zachary Taylor, Helsinki, and the Laziest Beggar are all no shows, and should be treated with appropriate levels of scorn and cryptic phone calls in the middle of the night to remind them they are unloved. Should any of them actually remember to submit before Fumblemouse posts in this thread again, their transgressions against man and God but mostly man will be briefly tolerated for the purposes of telling them they can't win.

To the rest of you I'd say good job if I hadn't already read half your stories. You are to be commended at least for being able to read a clock properly.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


Jeza posted:

I saw a black branch with blood that kept drippin'
In.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


Late crits.

God Over DjinnMemory Problems

An okay entree and an alright dessert bookending a shallow meal. We've got a mother and daughter whose relationship is on the rocks and no real investment in either of them. Until your ending, both these women are defined by their dislike for one another, a relentless dislike with very little in the way of levity or justification, and only the loosest sense of understanding. Eight years of erasing her home from her memory plus the eighteen she probably spent there besides makes for 26 years of cultivated antagonism, which very little of what you showed us in the diary seemed to combat, making the daughter's about-face from wanting nothing to do with her mother to wanting reconciliation a bit mysterious. They hurt each other, okay, sure, but that seems a minor point to make after 26 years about a woman whom, an hour ago, you didn't care if she lived or died.

HOMEWORK: Someone pledges their undying loyalty to someone else and they mean it from the bottom of their heart. Their relationship is neither servile or romantic. I'll give you 500 words.

Symptomless Coma - Hide Harry

Ah, precious children. Every writer's favorite way to get out of writing kids. That aside, there's some heart here and some real flow. Your stream of consciousness works more than it doesn't, but when it doesn't it really doesn't. Like Fumblemouse I too had some difficulty discerning between the dead pet and the new friend, and there are a few bits where the winding nature of the narration gets tangled up in itself. Stream of consciousness done well can be quite involving, but it also amplifies any mistakes found therein.

HOMEWORK: The world is actively ending. Tell me why your protagonist doesn't care in 500 words. Your protagonist may not be depressed, angsty, angry, cynical, or nihilistic.

V for Vegas - The Naturalist

Dear diary. Today some stuff happened. I ate some fruit. Here I will allude to some pictures and other things I haven't actually included. I hope this will enahnce rather than detract (it detracted) from my story.

Yeah, sorry man, not doing it for me. I want to say nothing happens, but between your allusions and generally solid prose I'm tempted to think there's something beneath the surface that we're just not seeing because you tried too hard to be clever about it. Also not seeing how it hits the prompt or your flash rule even remotely. When pressed for a loser I picked Mastajake over you because I had completely forgotten about your story after reading it the day before. I expected more from you.

HOMEWORK: The evening is ruined by a murder most foul. Give me the police report, the autopsy, and three short letters or relevance. 1,000 words.

Nubile Hillock - Carbonoserfatu

There's a lot going on here we're given very little context for. Who are these people and why do we care? This is actually pretty atypical for you, since you're usually pretty good about implying left things unsaid about your world and your characters. Your playful jumping through time also gets the better of you, since it feels less like you're revealing information in a roundabout way and more like you're just breaking up set pieces for the purpose of breaking up set pieces. I really don't know. Bitcoins.

HOMEWORK: A man's life depends on his ability to smuggle fish into a foreign country. Make us care about his fate in 700 words.

RoeCocoa - The Fish That Didn't Bark

Now here's a lot of words about nothing, or more specifically about one thing. The fish is missing, the kid ate it. "OK." A lot of stories this week felt like they were simply relaying an event then dropping the mic. That's all your story really feels like, like some story this guy is telling me at the bar after a long day. "Oh man, so, okay, get this, we bought our daughter a goldfish, right? But she ate it. Kids man. Kids."

HOMEWORK: Someone is born, lives, and dies in 200 words.

BitchTits McGee - Faye Dunaway

Another story in which something happens. This time it's two things, the latter of which feels tacked on. Two people watch a bad movie for eight hundred words then one of them dies so the other can have a heart transplant. Or something. This is, this could almost work. There's some okay chemistry here, bonding over a bad movie. The whole thing just suffers from Bar Story Syndrome, which I will now refer to all subsequent iterations of this problem as.

HOMEWORK: Someone is born, lives, and dies in 200 words. Everyone whose entry was marked Bar Story Syndrome is getting the same assignment this week.

Nikaer Drekin - Porcelain Lost, No Reward

Don't have a lot to say about this one. It was good. It made me smile. Actually, I'd advise everyone whose stories I knocked on for being anecdotal to read this. Even though it's only about one thing, it backs a lot of stuff into that one thing. There's an arc and even characters we're invested in. At the end of the day, if nothing else, your story should at least be enjoyable to read, if not also interesting in some respect. Nikaer Drekin accomplished far more than the bare minimum, but it's a good example of how to get things done. I guess I had a lot to say about this one after all.

HOMEWORK: The fate of the toilet in 500 words.

Jeza - All Fall Down

The minute I finished this story I knew it would be my pick for the winner. You hit the prompt on all four cylinders and spun your flash rule into a powerful narrative device, each step backwards in time peeling back another layer of the story and the characters. It works so well reading it chronologically presents an entirely different story. Good job.

HOMEWORK: [special teacher's exemption]

Obliterati - Go Forth and Sin No More

Bar Story Syndrome. The devil shows up and torments a guy. The end. Might've worked better if the protagonist had a little more meat to him, or if we had any kind of hint or foreshadowing as to the nature of his crime. Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is the only unforgivable sin in Catholicism (and most branches of Christianity) that I'm aware of, but I presume if that was the case he wouldn't be a priest. I need a little more to go on.

HOMEWORK: Someone is born, lives, and dies in 200 words.

Kaishai - Passage Fare

So this was a solid submission and my pick for second place. I still stand by that. The whole thing is competently put together with understated, amiable characters. But the whole story feels like I've read it somewhere before. This kind of morality play brings very few surprises to the table. Your protagonist does the selfless thing, the right thing, and it all turns out to have been a sort of secret test of character. Even something as simple as him having to wait on a second selfless person to come along would've done wonders to change things up.

HOMEWORK: A man and a woman wake up tied together on a burning yacht in the middle of the ocean. Neither of them can swim and help is not coming. You have as many words as you deem necessary to rescue them from their fate.

Docbeard - WHAARG

Bar Story Syndrome. Guy gets turned into a rhinoceros, some woman turns him back. The end. Waste of a good premise.

HOMEWORK: Someone is born, lives, and dies in 200 words.

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.

Tyrannosaurus - Blood

A significant improvement from your earlier efforts. Good going. Still some rough spots. This is basically a dialogue story, but the dialogue is not consistently strong enough to carry it all by its lonesome. A little more description would've eased the burden. Didn't stick with me like it stuck with Fumblemouse, but I really dug your ending.

HOMEWORK: Two old men sit on a park bench overlooking the sea. This is the first time they've seen each other in twelve years. Tell me about them in 800 words. Minimal dialogue.

Crabrock - The Challenge

Herbert is okay. Not great, but okay. The Russian less so. He makes Herbert gamble with his life but doesn't like unnecessary deaths? Doesn't he want the girl? It's in his best interest Herbert keeps going. Not quite Bar Story Syndrome but almost. A dude risks his life for a girl he admits he really doesn't care about and it's over. We don't really learn anything about Herbert except he's dumb and impulsive and the girl he's prepared to kill himself over exists only as a string of letters spelling out the fact that there is, in fact, a girl, and not some debt or adrenalin junky. Not your best work.

HOMEWORK: Someone is born, lives, and dies in 200 words.

Mastajake - Scavenger Hunt

Bar Story Syndrome. Siblings get roped into speed dating on a tour group. The end.

HOMEWORK: Someone is born, lives, and dies in 200 words.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


The Crying Tree (946 words)

Aunt Waverly and I were both born on a leap year. The 29th of February, twelve years apart. It was all a bit cosmic for me, but Aunt Waverly insisted it was the reason we got along so well. Kindred spirits. Like eggs and jam.

When I turned twelve she bought me a boa constrictor. She named it Ernie and I approved, though mother didn’t. She found it and killed it and threw it away. I didn’t cry because mother didn’t approve of that either, so aunt Waverly bought me a book about them for being such a sport. In the dedication she wrote in memory of Ernie, the most excellent of snakes. Three years later when the house burned down it was the only thing I bothered to save. That is how I came to live with Aunt Waverly.

Aunt Waverly lived above an old movie theater. From time to time she would open it up and show old movies for free in black and white, but few of the locals ever attended. I remember getting the distinct feeling we were not well liked. I asked her about it over tea and she smiled.

“No, not at all. More mistrusted.”

The apartment above the theater was tiny and cramped. Aunt Waverly had a deep and dividing interest in things. The shelves were lined with cages and oddities, and the walls hung thick with trinkets and masks. We had tea every afternoon by the one window that overlooked the street. I made myself comfortable by a suit of samurai armor. Aunt Waverly always sat between an old globe and spyglass.

“Why?”

“Hmm?”

“Why don’t they trust us?”

“Not us, my dear, just me.”

I shook my head. I knew better. I was guilty by association. I’d learned that much from attending school.

“They say you’re a witch,” I said. “Is that true?” For as long as she lived she never answered that question.

Now Aunt Waverly’s favorite thing was not in our house, nor by it, nor behind it. When we wanted to see it we walked out to the woods. The air there was crisp and tasted of autumn. We never brought a map, but we always knew the way.

In the heart of the forest in a clearing stood a single tree, the bleakest and blackest I have ever seen. Gnarled and bony, it produced no leaves no matter the season. Its roots were long and thick and tangled, the sparse grass between them dyed a brilliant, shimmering red. The locals called it The Crying Tree. Aunt Waverly called it Harold.

“Who’s Harold?” I asked, then having my first inkling as to how Aunt Waverly named things.

“Someone I used to know a long time ago.”

Gathered at the base of the tree were a number of pots placed strategically beneath the outstretched tips of various branches. Once a month Aunt Waverly and I went out to collect them and replace them with new ones, the old ones filled to the brim with a deep crimson liquid that carried a metallic scent. It took us several trips to bring them all. At the end of the day Aunt Waverly always stopped to thank the tree, hands together, praying silently. I followed her lead, though at the time I could not understand why.

At home we bottled the liquid and used it for dyes. Aunt Waverly taught me how to knit, and subsequently marked our next several Christmases with the mutual exchange of crimson scarves. As the year went by the colors would fade, necessitating new scarves. Sometimes Aunt Waverly used the dye for other things. Most of the time she simply stored it away. The one thing I was never allowed to see was where she kept it.

Sometimes Aunt Waverly went away on business, and I was left to myself. I would pick out books at random and wander the theater reading them aloud. It was during one such reading I discovered the only thing of Harold’s Aunt Waverly had left.

It was a simple photograph, stained and sepia. It showed a little girl in the embrace of her parents, with another gentleman standing off to the side. The parents were stern, somber people, clothes ironed and creased. The gentleman was more crinkled and crumpled and weary, yet smiling. The little girl smiled also. She looked more like his than theirs.

The back of the photograph read in simple handwriting Uncle Harold comes to visit on his and Waverly’s birthday. That was all I ever learned about the man named Uncle Harold.

Aunt Waverly returned that evening. As always she was smiling. I never mentioned the photograph.

That summer there was an accident. An earthquake. The whole theater shook. I escaped. Aunt Waverly didn’t. They found her beneath a number of shelves in the basement, surrounded by blood and broken glass bottles. The basement has apparently contained hundreds of such bottles. When they turned her over she had the most serene smile on her face. I’ll never forget it.

The service was on a Wednesday. Aunt Waverly preferred them. I refused a burial at the churchyard. Instead I took her body out into the woods. There by Harold, I planted her in the ground. Into her hands I placed the old photograph.

It has been several years since then. I do not collect things in bottles nor things in general as Aunt Waverly did, but I look after the ones she left behind. Sometimes I go out into the forest. There, by Harold, a new sapling has since sprouted. It bears no leaves, but exhales a gentle trickle of red.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


The Leper Colon V posted:

If you want a good story, say that in the prompt.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


Bad Seafood posted:

That's it, I'm gunning for you Joyce.

Before this thread ends I swear to submit a stream of consciousness piece that is not in any way terrible.
It's time.

In.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


Tall tales, time, stream of consciousness, kill me.

Portraits (570 words)

Eckhardt tapped the ash from his cigarette into the coke can between us half full of rum and twice filled with what was it – patience? Regret? He was the last of a long line of Irish Catholic Scotch Protestants who talked direct to God – a good listener I’m told – with an eerie predilection for German surnames as first names. His father was Schafer which he said had meant shepherd and his grandfather Jager and so on and so forth while he own name meant brave which he said he really wasn’t for breaking with such a drat fool tradition in the first place. He’d name his own son if ever he had one with the girl of his dreams if ever they met John or George or anything sensible that didn’t lead people you’d only just met to reply like a telephone recording Oh, But You Sound Irish because you did because you were.

The two of us found ourselves situated by the pier amongst the salt and sea spray Eckhardt loved so much to sketch anyone who’d let him which historically had been a negligible number. The bench upon which we’d staked our headquarters was battered and chipped and littered with bus tickets to places I’d never been with names I couldn’t recall what the time was – three thirty? Four? I fished through my pockets for the time of day but found only the sound of footsteps coming to a halt.

“Excuse me. Are you an artist? I would very much appreciate a picture. Years from now I’d like to remember myself.”

The speaker was a young woman in conservative dress with fierce green eyes and a dull green scarf white lined like the first of the frost at the first of the month of December which it was four o’ clock I confirmed. I turned to Eckhardt who nodded and bowed as he had picked up the habit of doing in Korea I would later learn and retrieved from his suitcase a black metal folding stool for her to sit. From behind his ear he produced a small black pencil of the same make and brand and flavor on the tongue as I’d always known him to use and put it to paper as

time stood still.

The people in the street and the children by the windows and the birds of the air and the fish of the sea on the hooks of the fishermen weary and old stood perfectly still a crowd of statues. Only Eckhardt moved one line at a time ticked slowly and carefully for Eckhardt alone. Each scratch of lead on white drew into sharper focus her eyes her ears her smile was simple and kind. Each layer added layers to the woman of the picture in the woman in the picture perfect like a photo or a moment cut from time. With every line she aged one year after year until after a millennia he removed the pencil from the paper and

time moved again.

The world blinked and found itself free at last from the grip of the hand with the pencil to the paper fold and handed from the artist to his subject. The old woman’s hands trembled gnarled and brittle but her smile still remained caught in time beneath eyes still clear. She paid Eckhardt with a bottle of wine the finest either of us ever have drunk.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


I think the previous week's winner plus two judges chosen at their discretion is the best system.

I'd sooner see a limit on the number of brawls allowed concurrently.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


Okay that's it. Crabrock and I are staging a coup. Whoever Foutre nominates is welcome to join the provisional military government if and when they ever get named.

Thunderdome Week LXXIII: My God It's Full of Starfish

This week we want a steady diet of stone age science fiction on a budget of 500 words. You know, cave man times. Flintstone-style. Don't actually reference the Flintstones or we'll think less of you as a person. Or the Jetsons. Or any Hanna-Barbera cartoon really. No cartoons.

crabrock posted:

prompt is give cavemen something they wouldn't normally have (Flintstones) or have them discovering something and write it like a scifi novel.

put scifi tropes in caveman times.
You have until Friday, December 27th at 11:59 PM PST to announce your participation and until Sunday, December 29th at that same time to drop out because your water heater broke or some similar inane reason.

Go.

EDIT: As an additional stipulation, your stories should also be good.

Chieftains
Bad Seafood
Crabrock
Kaishai

Tributaries
The Leper Colon V
Roguelike
Tyrannosaurus
No Longer Flaky
Sitting Here
Inthesto
Sebmojo
Purple Prince
SurreptitiousMuffin
Obliterati
Fumblemouse
JuniperCake

Sacrifices
Bitchtits McGee

Bad Seafood fucked around with this message at 18:40 on Dec 30, 2013

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Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


The Leper Colon V posted:

You don't know us very well, then!
Yeah, you'd have to write a story first.

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