I'm in (and new to the thread; hi!). Color me up!
|# ¿ Jul 16, 2013 15:53|
|# ¿ Oct 18, 2021 12:17|
Oh no! Did a Korean person die?
|# ¿ Jul 17, 2013 23:46|
This post puzzles me, I have no idea what it's about at all. I resent being puzzled, so FLASH RULE: Your story will be set in Korea. North or South, I don't mind.
Here you go. Now you don't have to be puzzled anymore.
|# ¿ Jul 18, 2013 12:24|
I'm not sure what my internet is going to look like for the rest of the weekend, so I'm posting now to avoid missing the deadline!
Crayola color: Key Lime Pearl
Flash rule: Your story will be set in Korea. North or South, I don't mind.
Word count: My word processor (Scrivener) says 1,156; my plain-text editor says 1,200 on the nose. (I suspect it's counting dashes.)
The American expats in the Republic of Korea who have moved out of the cities - the overwhelming minority - still tend to settle in clusters. There were five of us in my mountain village, a few miles outside of Cheongju.
Well, four of us, now.
The body of Judy Salvage was on its way to the tiny morgue in the nearby clinic, the victim of a stone courtyard wall to the head. She'd tripped coming down Grant Niequist's flagstone walk; the walkway being as uneven as it was, and her high heels as high, it felt almost inevitable. Niequist, another expat, had told the police he had seen her from the door, and come to help - but there had been nothing he could do.
News like this travels fast among us. Niequist had called the police, and then Dale Newell and his wife Myeong; Dale had mentioned it to Emily Norris, who'd been visiting at the time; and Emily, well, she'd called me right away. I got there just in time to see Judy's body loaded into the town's battered, second-hand ambulance. Judy had always reminded me of Audrey Hepburn, and the blood was garish on the side of her cultured face. Her eyes and lips were open, surprised. The inlaid brooch she always wore on her breast stood out in my moment's glance: its pearl was missing, surely knocked out as she'd hit the ground. Judy had never been the sort to wear damaged jewelry.
I stood outside Niequist's wall until the crowd had dispersed. Niequist himself had walked straight back up the path and gone inside as soon as the ambulance left. He was a quiet man, and reserved, but with a head for business. He said he'd come to Korea to get away from it all and get a fresh start, and he'd certainly done that. His house had been built on the strength of the land-reclamation business he'd founded, Niequist Jigu Haengbog - the sort of self-aggrandizement and overt language abuse that I wouldn't have expected from someone so introverted. Then again, he'd founded it when he first arrived, two decades earlier; maybe Korea had changed him in the intervening years.
I shook an Arirang out of its pack and lit it up. Seong Kwan, one of three police officers in our village and the one who'd stayed behind, shook his head and looked away, but said nothing. We'd had the conversation; the dust storms coming over from China were plenty for anyone's lungs in his eyes, especially with the unseasonably dry weather this year.
The gate was unlocked, and I nodded to it, raising my eyebrows. Kwan nodded slowly, and I went in. The splash of red on the inside corner caught my eye - it was dull now, not bright like you'd expect blood to be, but it still colored the grass around the base of the wall and the flagstone at the foot of the gate.
Judy had hit the side of her head on the wall, odd considering she'd been walking forward at the time. I took a few steps along the uneven path, but easily kept my footing, and looked around. The grass on either side was unhappy under the dry heat, and had turned a stiff yellow-green. I rarely visited Niequist - we were hardly friends, and in fact, I wasn't sure he actually had any, except maybe Judy - but I was always a little surprised that someone who was so into earthmoving didn't take better care of his yard or properly grade his walkway.
I crouched down and began to pick through the grass. "Dangsin-eun --" Kwan started, then caught himself. "What are you doing?"
"Looking for something." The grass near the wall was empty, so I started searching back. About ten feet and twenty minutes up the path I found what I was looking for, and beckoned Kwan over. He crouched too, and saw it immediately: a pearl, about half an inch across and perfectly round - and half-embedded in the dirt. I swore quietly (Kwan shook his head again); I'd scattered the grass so much looking for the pearl that there was no way to tell whether other feet had disturbed the blades before. But there was definitely a heel mark around the pearl, and it hadn't been there long.
"Hold your finger over it, for reference," Kwan said. He took a camera from his pocket and snapped a photograph of the pearl and my finger, then backed up and took another from a distance. He slipped the camera back into his pocket as he walked back over, and took out a pair of tweezers and a plastic bag. After a few tries, he managed to get the pearl out of the ground, slipped it into the bag, and sealed it up. We straightened just in time to hear Niequist's voice. "Stop that. What are you doing?"
"Judy's pearl was missing from its setting," I said, calmly. "I just wanted to see if I could find it."
"This is an illegal search," Niequist protested. "You can't be here."
"Mr. Wells here was the only one searching," said Kwan, slipping the baggied pearl back into his pocket. "Can you tell me what you and Ms. Salvage were talking about today?"
Niequist paused and stared at Kwan. "The business. She wanted to invest in the business."
"I thought you were doing quite well, Grant. Why do you need investment?"
Niequist shot a poisonous look at me. I smiled. "We need more equipment," he said. "We're expanding operations."
"I see," Kwan said. "Can you tell me why Ms. Salvage lost her pearl?"
"It must have fallen out when she tripped."
"It was a very long way from the wall, Mr. Niequist. Are you sure?" Kwan frowned, just a little.
Niequist swallowed. "I must have kicked it when I walked back inside."
"You didn't stray from the path when you walked up, Grant."
"No." Niequist shook his head. "I don't like to walk on the grass."
"So why was the pearl stomped into the ground?"
Niequist's face paled. "No, Nick. I didn't -- you have to believe I didn't --"
"Didn't what, Mr. Niequist?" Kwan's arms were crossed, his frown deepening.
The silence felt longer than it actually was.
"I didn't mean to," Niequist said, his face falling. "She knew everything. She was going to go to Immigration - tell them who I was. I just wanted her to stop and talk to me."
"And who are you, Grant?" I asked, as gently as I could.
Niequist shook his head. "Deportable, if they find out."
I swallowed. Niequist had been in this little village longer than anyone but Dale.
Kwan took out a pair of metal handcuffs, and Niequist sagged. "Nick, I just wanted a fresh start. It's been twenty years. To have what I did thrown in my face again..."
The cuffs snapped into place. "I just wanted a fresh start."
SneezeOfTheDecade fucked around with this message at 22:31 on Jul 21, 2013
|# ¿ Jul 20, 2013 14:21|
This is excellent. How much did you know about Korean culture before you got your flash rule?
Not much at all - I feel like I spent about twice as much time researching for this as I did actually writing.
Your entry is great too; I wasn't sure what you were going to do with "Laser Lemon", but the scurvy angle was great (and really distressing!), and you captured the "doomed ship" feeling very well.
|# ¿ Jul 20, 2013 15:03|
You don't chat in the Thunderdome. You can discuss stuff in the Fiction Advice thread or join IRC.
Information request: #thunderdome on SynIRC has seemed to be dead every time I've checked it. Is there another channel I should be looking for?
|# ¿ Jul 20, 2013 15:34|
I'm in. Should we declare ahead of time which thread we're using, or just identify it in our submission?
e: I'll go with All my friends are dead: Paleontology is a thing.
SneezeOfTheDecade fucked around with this message at 16:24 on Jul 24, 2013
|# ¿ Jul 23, 2013 23:57|
In. to submit, that I may wipe away the shame of last week's failure.
Here you go: Florida Bans Mermaids
|# ¿ Jul 24, 2013 19:30|
Seriously folks, who is going to volunteer as the third judge? Don't make me put a random person on the spot.
If no one steps up by 11:59 PM, I'll volunteer and withdraw my participation.
e: Saved by the beef!
SneezeOfTheDecade fucked around with this message at 22:09 on Jul 26, 2013
|# ¿ Jul 26, 2013 18:05|
Voyagers, 996 words
My phone rang in my pocket, and I let the "Reading Rainbow" ringtone go on before I picked it up, a little astonished that I even got reception out here at the dig site.
"Kristine!" Janet said through the speaker. She was laughing and her voice was higher-pitched than usual, and in the background I could hear more laughter. "He did it!"
"Who did what?" I asked, half-distracted by the bones on the table. I hadn't been the one to dig them up, so this was the first chance I'd had to really look at them.
"René built the machine, and it works!" There was a pop in the background, and then a hiss, and I realized they'd opened the bottle of champagne René had been saving since he started his project -- and then I realized what Janet was talking about.
"You're sure it works?" I turned away from the table, my attention entirely on the phone now.
"Of course I'm sure. We all took the first manned trip together. We're sorry you couldn't be here, Kris."
"When did you go?"
"About fifteen minutes ago. We just jumped forward a minute. The video camera caught the whole thing." She took a sip of something -- probably the champagne -- and laughed again. "The whole room went blue for a second and then back to normal, and it just felt like sitting in a chair."
"Can it go back?" I asked, feeling my heart pound against my ribs.
In the background I heard a faint hum, like a speaker getting too much volume with dead air. Then I heard Janet's voice, fainter, even though I could still hear her breathing and laughing close to the phone. "Tell him yes!"
"...yes, I guess?" the Janet who was still on the phone said. The one in the background said, "I remember the conversation!"
"So there are two of you in the room?"
"Yeah! I guess we all came back just to make sure!" I could hear a muted discussion, and then Janet got back on the phone. "Okay, I don't remember the conversation from this point, but listen, we're going to make a couple trips back to see famous events and stuff."
I love my job. I love my job. "Don't kill Hitler. And do come home."
"And don't step on any butterflies, I know." The hum again, and the voices in the background halved. "I'm sorry you can't be here with us. It sucks that you had to be out on a dig when he finally finished."
"It's the discovery that's important, not who's there for it," I said. "Besides, you're not going to the historical periods I'm really interested in."
As if on cue, I heard Thomas in the background. "Dinosaurs! Let's go see the dinosaurs!"
"gently caress you, Thomas, I'm on the phone with her. What the hell?" A pause, a sigh. "Look, I am sorry. We'll take you on the next trip, I swear."
("The really fun ones are down in Utah," I heard Thomas say. "Come on, just a peek -- we can take pictures for Kris.")
"It's really okay. You go have fun. I have bones to box," I said.
I heard René and Thomas calling for Janet in the background. "Go, seriously. I'll be here when you get back."
"...all right, Kris, if you insist. I promise I won't kill Hitler."
"Bye, Janet." I hung up before she could apologize again, and turned back to the table. My heart was still going fast, but I had actual work to do.
It had taken me fourteen years to finagle this dig -- fourteen years during which they could have shown back up and hadn't. When Janet, René, and Thomas hadn't returned with the machine, I knew in my gut that they'd done what Thomas wanted. Separately, we were all forces of nature, but together, we ended up doing what Thomas wanted to do. It had always been thus. And Thomas had wanted to see the loving dinosaurs.
When he'd mentioned Utah, it was obvious where he wanted to go. He'd visited Dinosaur National Monument with his family as a child, and brought it up whenever dinosaurs were mentioned. I had no doubt at all that if they'd traveled back that far, they'd have gone to the Monument. It was possible that they'd gone somewhen else, or somewhere else, and been lost; but even if I didn't find what I was looking for, at least I'd be able to say I'd dug at Carnegie Quarry.
I realized that I was in the same position I'd been in when I'd taken that phone call -- sitting in a folding chair under a canopy, looking at bones arrayed on a camp table, waiting to be crated up. This time, it was my students doing the crating; I was just taking a break from the summer heat. "Professor?" one of them asked, gesturing to a humerus the size of my entire leg, and I pointed her to the large crate to the side of the tent, already packed with straw and waiting for its occupant. She smiled and looked down. "No, I meant -- can you help?"
I laughed and got up, stretching my back and legs. She got one end and I got the other, and together we hefted the bone into its crate. As I stood back up, one of the other students called down from the hillside. "Professor Kwan? I think you'd better come take a look at this."
My heart shot into my throat, and I scrambled out of the tent and up the marked pathway. Kennedy was crouching under an outcropping, brush and pick in her hand. "I thought this was a juvenile, so I was being extra careful -- but it's not. It almost looks like a hominid, but it's not even close to the right stratum. Any ideas?"
I sighed, and ran my finger along the long-fossilized skull's eye socket, down its cheek. "Not a hominid, Kendy. A human."
|# ¿ Jul 27, 2013 22:21|
I won't argue with the rest of the crit, but I have to ask: did I misunderstand?
Don't include a twist.
So I didn't include a twist. What am I doing wrong here? "the obvious place for it to go" was, I thought, actually what the prompt said to do.
|# ¿ Jul 29, 2013 22:48|
|# ¿ Oct 18, 2021 12:17|
No, I was going off the same prompt. Both yours and Whalley's do the same thing, where there's an abrupt reversal of fortune that marks the end of the story. It's the abrupt reversal that we, as readers, expect but that the characters aren't anticipating.
I guess we disagree about what constitutes an abrupt reversal of fortune; the reader is supposed to know what's coming, and the protagonist has at least suspected for seventeen years and is just getting confirmation of something she already believed - that's why she went on the dig in the first place.
Regardless, I'm not going to change your mind and don't think I ought to; I just wanted to know what I'd done wrong there.
|# ¿ Jul 29, 2013 23:04|