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Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.

Martello posted:

We're not doing that mandatory crit thing. Thunderdome is too fast-paced and there are too many contestants for judges to have to commit to critiquing each and every entry. Like ESB and I have said many times, the Fiction Farm is right there.

I return from the grave to say that I think this is dead wrong. I think at least one judge each week should man up and post crits for the stories posted. Half the loving fun of it is in reading the brutal crits of people who hosed up or getting your ego massaged for succeeding in style. I always felt it was just low-effort and generally poo poo if a judge said: This idiot won, this spack was the worst and the rest whatever. The more amusing, in-depth or creative they are, the better.

It gives people incentive to go back and read other suckers' stories because it highlights what was exceptional about their entries, for better or for worse, and thus not only do you benefit from your personal crit but also see what succeeds and what does not. Plus know your enemy and all that.

If you really, really cannot spare an hour for crits after you become a judge and you know it in advance, one of the willing 'honourable mentions' should be a judge in their place after the real winner has selected next week's topic. Then the winner can always sub back in during their 3-week allocation when they know they have the time to give crits. They also wouldn't have to sit out if the other two judges have said they could give crits, just in case one of them fails.

tl;dr: Don't underestimate how important good crits are to the 'dome.


Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.

Capntastic posted:

Crits are important and super useful but only when they're actually loaded with some care and detail. Giving that sort of attention to 25+ stories either takes a huge amount of time or is close to worthless.

I took a handful hours just to go through the stories and make some notes. Giving anything more in-depth would require a lot more time and a lot more effort. If you absolutely need critiques beyond "here's what sucked" or "here is why this won", then there's other places for that.

Nobody is asking for more than a sentence or three. Casual note writing while going through the entries, as you say, will also save you time. If there are a lot of entries, that is why there are 3 judges. Split the crit load, one person do the first half, and the other do the second half.

Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.

Capntastic posted:

I'm of the opinion that it's usually only worth critiquing something if it's good with some flaws that need buffing or altogether bad and needs correcting. There's a lot of stories here that are simply decent, competent, and without much to really comment on. What's more, I don't think any participant would step up and say that every story they've done is at the stage where it's worth holding onto, much less developing. If it is, take it to the other thread.

It might seem harsh to say that not every story is going to be worth a line by line critique by our rotating cast of judges, but that's Thunderdome for you.

I should probably shut up already, but yes if you want good and deeply insightful critique, you don't look for it here. Then you can go to the Fiction Farm. People aren't looking for the A-Z of how to improve. They are looking to have fun and enjoy a bit of meaty competition, while also having some crit gravy on the side.

Nobody expects going above and beyond the call of duty like this, but it was posts like these that actually made me join the 'dome in the first place. SA is a place where high-effort posts are what makes it a decent forum. They are not mandatory, but they are worthwhile. No crit = poo poo.

Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.
Looking forward to getting back into the groove.


Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.


...Arguably a loving sports story shows action...

I knew I should have gone with extreme croquet. I KNEW IT.

Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.
The Blues - Word Count: 1000

Smoke hung in the club like fog from a cheap horror film. The patrons were gone for the night but their cigarette shrouds remained, watching over their green leather barstools like wraiths.

They graveyard feeling was appropriate. His club, Brass Tacks, was now closed for good. Behind the bar, Edgar polished what would in all probability be his final set of tumblers. Row upon row of pristine glasses already sat drying on a cloth on the bar. His calloused fingers worked the grooves from muscle memory, coaxing out the sticky residues from their hiding places.

The place had a lot of memories. Too many memories. Signed photographs of famous bluesmen hung on the wall like little windows to happier times. The nicotine on the ceiling was thick enough to study geologically. Countless couples had scuffed their way over the woodwork locked in intimate embraces, beholden to the mesmer of forgotten jazz.

He heard the familiar heavy thunk of the doors and the shudder of multiple pairs of feet stamp down the stairs. They burst through into the room in a flurry, great woollen overcoats billowing all about them. Not so much entering, as storming. Four of them, greasy wops from uptown.

They revelled in their stereotype. The one at the lead had a rhythmless swagger to his step. An ugly pencil moustache completed his portrait. He wore a matching ugly sneer to go with his ugly face. Disdain oozed from his every oily pore. He approached the bar and sat at Charlie's seat. He wrinkled his nose, then with his greasy fingers took one of the clean glasses from the cloth and poured himself some bourbon.

“Stinks worse than a chop shop in here old man.”

Edgar said nothing. The man took a theatrical slug and made a theatrical face.

“This the best you got?” the greaseball “Figures.”

The three goons standing behind him chuckled on queue.

Edgar said nothing.

“The thing is...” the man continued “The thing is about you niggers, is that you just don't get business.”

Under the table, Edgar's hands flexed.

“When you put money in, you expect return on investment...”

The words faded into the humming of the bar lights. Edgar couldn't stop looking at the glass the man had just put down. The lip-prints on the rim. The translucent smears across the clear crystal.

It was then that the fracture happened. Like when you drop an ice cube into whisky, the outer integrity is preserved, but on the inside the perspective simply breaks. A hairline crack formed along Edgar's psyche. With an expression of icy calm he picked the bourbon bottle up neck-first. With a smooth and graceful action, he brought the bottle round into the man's temple. The force of the impact toppled him from his stool, and he tumbled to the floor in a shower of glass shards and cheap booze. So sudden was the blow that he hadn't even made a yelp.

“What the fu...”

The mobsters rifled comedically through their many layers, attempting to find their stashed weapons. They were too slow. In one swift motion, Edgar was over the bar. In his hand he clutched an ancient looking saxophone. It was beat up and had lost most of its shine, a bit like him. He swung it like some primaeval club into the forehead of the guido on the left with a wet thump. He hit him so hard that the saxophone dented. The man fell to his knees and Edgar brought it down twice more. He keeled sideways, hair now slick with more than gel.

Another grabbed him in a bear hug so tight the air was squeezed out of his lungs. Edgar wheezed and dropped the sax. He could feel his ribs buckling. Before the life was literally squeezed right out of him, he threw his weight forward in a manoeuvre he would have not imagined he was capable of. The man crashed over the top of him and onto a thick wooden table. It broke down the middle in a bone-jarring crunch.

Edgar wrenched one of the splintered table legs free. The man tried to get up, still dazed. Edgar rammed the makeshift stake right into his belly and pinned him back down. He was drawing from a deep well of savagery now, animal and vicious. The mobster groaned and emitted a pitiable whine.

Surveying his work, Edgar almost heard the footstep too late. He spun to see the final flunky charging right at him with a switchblade. With all the poise of a martial artist, he diverted the man's momentum and clenched his wrist and upper arm and pressed, hard. The man's elbow popped in a way it was definitely not meant to. The man screamed and dropped the knife, his arm going limp. Edgar swung a violent kick into his groin, and then another for good measure. He let go of the man's arm like a puppeteer dropping a marionette, and the man collapsed gasping for breath.

“You crazy loving coon! You motherfucking lunatic!”

Edgar turned to see that the lead gangster had staggered to his feet, still wobbling unsteadily. Rivulets of blood trickled down his cheek. In his hand, a Colt 1911. Its black eye waved back and forth, watching Edgar, who stood in a fighter's pose.

“Stupid loving old man. Now look what I gotta do.”

The man fired, three harsh guttural barks in languid succession. Smoke coiled up from the barrel to intermingle with the rest. Edgar slumped sideways and stumbled into one of the room's pillars. He slid down it like a man relaxing.

From one of his chino's pockets, Edgar pulled out his ancient Zippo. He stroked the burnished brass cap backwards and sparked the flint. The flame danced to some unheard tune. He saw the lighter topple from his fingers and the gasoline soaked floor erupt. Edgar smiled. He'd always wanted to go watching somebody howling to the blues.

Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.

Capntastic posted:

The worst that could happen is the post above yours, I think you'll come out clean.


Heretic, you look like a little bitch. The only thing you'll be misconstruing from now on is repeated below-the-belt verbal punches into your self-esteem groin, again and again.

Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.


*mountain of crit*

I'll use my calloused British hands to throttle you old man, then beat you to death with your own stultifying colon.

Seriously though, this was some really decent crit to take on board. (True fact: Was totally playing with the idea of putting goombah in there.)

A lot of it I think I can chalk up to pastiche noir seeping into my brain, having just played Max Payne. Especially self-referential metaphors and overdone language.

Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.

Martello posted:

FLASH RULE: Contrary to EchoCian's prompt post, your story MUST include a sex scene, and it has to be a good one that helps us feel the love between the two characters. Not a japanese cartoon animes porn hentai one. I'm the sole arbiter of whether your sex scene is "good" or "japanese anime-cartoon hentai."


Yeah, uh, I'll give it a shot. Never written anything you could call romantic before though. Could be a disaster.

Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.
EST is America's Eastern Standard Time.

It is GMT-5. That means the Submission deadline in GMT is 4:59 AM, Monday 18th.

For you, in Australia, depending on whether you are on EST or EDT, it will be 6:59 PM or 5:59 PM, Sunday 17th.

Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.
Milk and Honey - Word Count: 1058

Their squalid little flat, home, smelt of failing-to-dry clothes and lower-middle class drudgery. Elsa stood in the living room, dirty mug of black coffee steaming in one hand and bad mood written all over her face. She stared out at the miasma outside, concrete through condensation. It was the fuzzy indistinctness that held her attention, as if at any minute Sarah's neon-pink anorak might break out of the murk like a bat out of some especially lurid hell.

It had been another stupid fight, this time over something even more trivial than usual. Where was the milk? Hadn't she told her to pick some up on the way home? Well, who had used up what they had with their cereal? Hangover and an empty wallet had put the words in her mouth. It had been cheap gratification which she regretted instantly. There had been tears and shouting. Slammed doors had echoed through their walls, and Sarah had vanished off into grey air. Elsa had been angry at first, had lashed out at their broken dryer and slapped the letter magnets off the fridge with a furious swipe. Then inevitably, predictably, sadness took up the reins and she had spent a pathetic couple of minutes on her knees, picking up them all up again.

Gingerly, she had put them back in a wonky looking rainbow 'Sorry' – an apology to Sarah as much as a confession to herself. Happiness was so unfairly asymmetric. So long to build up, so quick to knock down. A few hours before, they had been lying in bed together. She had traced her fingers round Sarah's hipbones and basked while Sarah had run her fingers through her hair. And here they were, drowning in loving bowls of cereal and cups of milkless coffee. The mundane sticking its grubby hands all over the sublime.

Minutes drifted into hours and melancholy drifted into worry. The light began to fail. Sarah had run away before. Avoidance had always been her coping strategy, ever since they had first met. But this time felt different. She hadn't loitered on the doorstep before crossing, hadn't looked back at her with hurtful eyes. Elsa hadn't even heard her footsteps hesitate down the corridor outside. That keened. Absence is fear's playground. They lived in a bad neighbourhood. Her texts went unanswered. Grim possibilities painted themselves on the whitewashed walls like 35mm film.

At last, she couldn't bear it any longer. She wrapped up, slipped her feet into knee-length boots and grabbed her umbrella. In the beginning she wandered aimlessly – resisting the ridiculous urge to call out her lover's name into the fog. She peered into coffee shops and pubs, any and every one of Sarah's usual little haunts. But each bright idea brought more disappointment. The rain got heavier and the sodium streetlights stuttered into life.

Water got into her boots. Each footstep squelched and the cold wet wicked its way up her jeans. After two hours of searching, she came to a halt like some wound down clockwork toy. She collapsed onto a wooden bench and felt the damp slats press into her skin. She dropped the umbrella limp-wristedly onto the pavement and stared up into the starless night sky. Illuminated raindrops raced down to meet her.

It had been a night like this that they had first met, she remembered. Nearly ten years ago. They had barely been teenagers. She, a rebel with dyed-black hair, silly nails and a whole journal full of bad poetry, and her, the quiet as a dormouse pale and blonde princess. Sarah had been running away that night too. She had met Sarah's father only once, years later. A thick built, cruel faced man. She remembered the way Sarah had dug her nails into the palm of her hand when they had confronted him.

Where had it been again, the very first time? The memory came back with startling clarity. The dingy little fairground, that one near the Southbank. She had gone to there to skulk and be moody; Sarah had gone there to hide, and to sleep. She had come across a feral little girl that night and she had given her her hand. An achingly simple gesture. Sarah's situation, at her age, was more properly felt than understood. She didn't have real solutions for real problems. All she had were pocket-money bought plasters and keys to her bedroom window, somewhere safe and warm – but it had been enough. She would be there, at the fairground. Elsa got to her feet and ran, leaving the umbrella collecting water by the bench.

When she arrived, panting, soaked and out of breath, the place was dark and empty. It was a Sunday evening – of course it was closed. Her stomach twisted. She swung her legs over the railings as they had done together so many times before in years past. These sorts of places were eerie when deserted, even more so at night. The demonic eyes of merry-go-round creatures lay dormant and suspicious, and the barred and shuttered stalls were all ominous. Elsa worked her way past all of those to the centrepiece – the Ferris wheel in the middle of it all.

And she was there. A pink silhouette hunkered down in one of the carriages. Elsa approached, and peeked her head over the door. Sarah sitting, hugging her legs. Elsa knocked on the window. Sarah started and turned, eyes wide with shock. Elsa realised she must look a state. Ghostlike with hair plastered all down her cheeks – a feral young woman. Sarah leant over and opened the door. Elsa stepped in.

“You look a bit wet.” offered Sarah.

There was a moment of emotional latency, inertia, while Elsa stood and dripped. Then she threw herself at Sarah like a waterlogged blanket, enveloping her in a desperate hug. Her whole body was racked with asthmatic half-sobs, half-laughs.

With difficulty, she pulled herself back a little to look Sarah straight in the eyes.

“I'm sorry.”

And she wove her fingers together with Sarah's into a beautiful tapestry, and she pressed her lips into hers and imparted a passionate kiss. And for a moment, there they were again – lost teenagers, in a world where milk was free at school, dryers didn't exist and nothing was ever mundane.

Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.

Martello posted:

new thread title imo


Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.

Kiss me you stallion. You even subbed in 'colourful' :britain:

Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.

DivisionPost posted:

Ohhhhh gently caress I just saw that you're one of Those Deemed Worthy. Please accept my deepest apologies.

What are 'apologies'?

Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.
In. Don't know poo poo 'bout no Aquarius though. Guess I'll find out.

Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.

Honey Badger posted:

Haven't done this since I moved across the country.

In, Aquarius.

Step off - your reg date sure as hell ain't Aquarius brother. Go hang with your loser Capricorn buddies.

Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them. - A/T research about diving.

Welp, took on a stupidly large idea for my prompt so I wrote about double. On the bright side, might turn it into a little short story. This intro has some pretty relevant contextual details, without which I guess you'll be a little lost in my entry.

Aquarius, somewhat weirdly, is under the element of air. I wanted to write something that combined both water and air, hence diving looked pretty much made for the role. CCR = Closed Circuit Rebreather, Heliox = Air-mix of Helium and Oxygen used for deep dives - can result in

Might actually combine the whole lot and write a more satisfying conclusion. Anyway, less 3AM waffle more entry.

The Water-Bearers - Word Count: 1242

Ingvar drew in a deep breath and let himself fall backwards. He connected with a muffled splash. Wet fingers rushed to smooth over any part of his wetsuit that wasn't already clasped onto him. The dregs of the Gulf Stream hardly reached Fjallabyggð so it was cold, but he was used it. He regularly dived in worse.

“Testing, One...two...three, over.”

Mike's voice came in fuzzy through his mask.

“Loud and clear, Mike. Over.”

Visibility was poor, but he couldn't miss the vast black silhouette of the launch pipe. It plumbed down until it blended into the darkness below. The morning sun scraped in from the shallow arctic sunrise. The rays barely penetrated; Costa del Sol this was not. Ingvar made powerful sweeps of his flippers and propelled himself forward toward the pipe. He flipped the switch on the flashlight he was carrying. Its full glare caught all the plankton in the water like a laser through smoke. The beam picked out details on the pipe, little growths of kelp and small clusters of barnacles.

“Beginning descent. Over.”

“Got it,” Mike replied “keep your eyes peeled. Over.”

“Will do, over.”

Ingvar had always seen deep dives like one of those paint colour charts, the sort of thing children goggled at in Ikea. Royal Blue, melding on Prussian Blue, gliding past Navy and onto Midnight. It could be quite beautiful, but there wasn't much to sightsee. It was even a little dull. Mike was a button-press away but he didn't go for small talk, especially not on Heliox. He had heard his recordings of his voice on the de-scrambler and although the others found it hilarious, he didn't see the funny side. His deep, controlled breathing was the only accompaniment – that and the silver flashes of curious fish on the edges of his vision.

It made a nice chance to swim down without painstakingly checking the pipe though. He checked his wrist dive computer. 194ft. Almost halfway. He moved the torch away from the pipe and shone it down, where it was quickly swallowed by the inky water. Then he saw something.

It isn't possible to flounder underwater, not properly, but Ingvar gave it a drat good try.

“What the gently caress is that?”

“Ing?” Mike's voice appeared in his ear, flushed with concern.

Across the pipe, something was written. Not words, but two jagged lines. It was a huge scrawl, a piece of luminescent graffiti. His torch had been hiding it in its glare. Ingvar swallowed unconsciously.

“Somebody's been down here, Mike. They've scrawled the pipe in some glowing paint, I don't know. Looks like some kind of weird hieroglyphic...”

His 'over' trailed off. Ingvar floated, transfixed. His heart was beating hard.

“Do I abort Mike? Over.”

There was silence.

“...uh, that's a negative, Ing. I am on the line with UNSA right now, they're saying you have to get down there. They are going to need non-contaminated water up there as an urgent priority. You have to get down there, over.”

That was the answer Ingvar had been afraid of.

He tarried for a moment before kicking off once more. He left behind the alien markings and swam deeper. What would be waiting for him down there? A bunch of lunatic eco-terrorists perhaps. Some chthonic horror that had been awoken by man's hubris even. Behind his perspex window he sweated, the cold forgotten. He felt almost hyperaware, as if he could feel the blood sucking through his veins like straws. The pressure pressed on his heart and lungs like stress-balls.

The distance dropped away horrifyingly quickly on the dive comp, his programmed depth rushing up to meet him. And he was already there. Sticking up from the rocks like a basalt boulder was the facility, tacked onto the humongous launchpipe like an afterthought. He had never set foot inside, though he had seen it many times from the outside. He closed the distance and slipped under the pouting metal lip jutting from its side. He moved up into the moon pool and breached. It was a chamber, lit by dim wall lights. He bobbed up and down, hesitating, before drawing himself up a little ladder inset into a wall.

He beached on the metal jutty like a seal. He cut the flow on his CCR and took the mask off, shedding equipment in a hurry. He was shaking more than he should be, even scared. He had come down too fast. He took the earpiece and put it in.

“Mike, can you hear me Mike? Over.”

Ingvar hoped the shakes weren't too evident in his voice.

Mike's voice came through a veil of static “...yeah, OK? sound a little off. Over.”

“Yeah, yeah. I'm fine. Just came down a little too fast, is all. Where do I go now? What do I have to do? Over.”

“OK Ing, listen carefully. The guys at UNSA I mentioned? They're telling me the interference will get pretty bad near the control room, so I gotta tell you what you need to do when you get there. Don't worry its a piece of cake. They don't want you to worry about anything else, you just have to do a hard reset. Look for a big yellow console and flip all the switches, then back again. Just like any regular fuse box. Easy. Over.”

“Yeah,” Ingvar bit his lip “OK, I got it Mike. Thanks, over.”

“Good luck. Over.” The channel went dead.

Ingvar shook himself to get a grip. He felt a little queasy, his vision a little fuzzy round the edges. He set off, dripping all the way. Using the wall for support every so often, he follow the signs to 'Control Room'. The air got warmer every step closer he took. It wasn't far to walk.

Weak-muscled, it took him a couple of tugs to fully turn the hatch handle. The door swung open weightily and he loped in.

The room was stifling and he was hit with a wall of hot, stale air. Ingvar hardly noticed. Head pounding, he stared. Every surface in the room was covered in luminous scribblings. Those jagged lines were everywhere. It was like a madman's asylum cell. He felt ill. He began to hyperventilate. Shadows lurched out at him with phantom knives and dissipated as he jerked his eyes to meet them.

He fought his way past the phantasms to the rows of consoles and looked around wild-eyed and desperate. Displays flashed at him with maddening red lights. Chemical symbols leered out at him from screens everywhere, ancient chemistry lessons taunting him from the back of his memory.

There! He nearly fell upon his knees from relief as he got the yellow console. He slammed down all the switches in a panic and whacked them all up again. Nothing happened. All he could hear was the hum of the computers and the hiss of the ventilation. He did it again.

He babbled into his mic. “Mike! Mike! Nothing's happened, nothing's changing. Mike? Mike. I think I gotta go Mike, I don't feel so good. I think maybe the air mix in here is messed up I think-”

He retched, clutched his stomach, then threw up.

He spluttered. He heard the fans in the room begin to whir even louder, deafening.

“Mike?” he whispered.

But there was only static.

Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.

Bishop posted:

I'm a pretty good non fiction writer but terrible at fiction. That said, what better way to fix that than than a loving thunderdome? I'm in.

Another falls into our clutches.

Magical realism, eh? poo poo is about to get pretentious. (In.)

Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.
But you, brothers, are not in darkness - Word Count: 1496

Pavel was deep, deeper than he had ever dared go before. There was a running competition as to who could go the deepest in the caves. Last week Ilya had gone and broken his record, or claimed she had. He secretly thought she might be a liar but he didn't say so. That was no fun. So he had snuck out after school to regain his glory.

Lights were against the rules. 542 paces in, it was pitch black and very cold. They measured the game in footsteps, as if there was no difference in stride length. It was a rule adults couldn't understand. One parent had offered them a coiled rope measure once, to see exactly how deep they had gone. Childish insight sees often clearer into human matters than an adult's. The long-strided man after ten paces with his eyes closed is as uneasy as the short-strided man. It was a test of bravery, not of strength.

Ilya said she had gone for 484, so Pavel could have stopped already. But he wanted to cement his place at the top of the pile for weeks to come. So he went deeper.

He was on the cusp of breaking the six hundred barrier when it happened. A voice had boomed out and stopped him mid-step.

His foot hovered above the ground, frozen in terror. A floating lantern of light stepped out in his path, and behind it an old woman. The woman growled at him in a guttural tongue he didn't understand and stepped towards him. Pavel burst into tears. He had found a witch, and now she was going to eat him. His mother had told him it wasn't safe to go into the old mines but he hadn't listened.

The witch kept talking at him, voice changing all the time, no doubt casting some evil spell that would cover him in butter and salt. Then real words came out of her mouth, crooked and hoarse:

“What are you doing here, boy?” the witch asked.

“Please don't eat me!” he squeaked plaintively.

At that, the witch released a cruel cackle and he knew that she was definitely a witch and was definitely going to eat him.

“Idiot child. I am not going to eat you.”

But as she said it, one of her bony hands shot out like a viper and grabbed his.

“Come, what are you doing playing down these mines? It is dangerous without a light. Does anybody know you are here?”

Pavel shook his head. She tsked and began to pull him against his will. Her strength was irresistible. She was pulling him to her cauldron, he was sure of it. He had read books about it and witches were always like that. Pretending to be nice first to get him to trust her. Though she was quite rude for a witch. She wouldn't fool anyone as a sweet old lady.

Her lair was disappointing. Bare stone walls and exposed light-bulbs replaced gingerbread walls, giant ovens and cauldrons. She didn't even seem to have a cat. He was about to give her the benefit of the doubt, but there was a broomstick in the corner. His suspicions were renewed. There were also piles of books and lots of candles lying around. Very witch-y.

“If you aren't a witch,” he baited the trap carefully “then why do you live in a cave?”

“I never said I wasn't a witch, boy. I said I wasn't going to eat you.”

This answer sent him into a shocked silence. He was already undergoing something of epiphany, being at the age where he was beginning to knowingly enjoy the fiction of dragons and goblins, rather than see them as real. But now, the sands had shifted.

However, the seeds of cunning were planted deep in him.

“If you are a real witch,” he narrowed his eyes “then show me a spell.”

The challenge was set. The hag grinned with a set of dirty, yellow teeth.

“Very well.”

She went over to a bookshelf and pulled out a spellbook. She wet her thumb and flicked through it. She settled on a page and passed the book over to Pavel.

“Pick any word and I shall know. I can read your mind.”

Pavel goggled at the pages. There were a great many words he didn't recognise. He turned away secretively and hid the pages from her view. He chose a complicated looking one he didn't know and turned back.

“Done!” he beamed.

She took the book away from him, closed her eyes and began to mutter some incantation. He was mesmerised. Her finger traced down the pages, then settled on a word. She knelt down and showed him the word she was pointing to.

Pavel's jaw dropped in a show of raw honesty.

“I told you so.”

Then she smiled.

“Boy, I have an offer for you. I live in a cave because I wish to be alone. So you mustn't tell anyone you found me. In exchange I'll give you a spellbook. How does that sound?”

Pavel nodded vigorously. She left and returned with a great hidebound tome. Exactly like a spellbook should look like. She handed it over with great gravitas. Excitedly, he opened it the moment it left her fingers.

But it was all in gobbledygook. He couldn't read it a bit. He was crestfallen and looked at her with betrayal in his eyes.

She wagged her finger at him. “It is written in a magic tongue. It will only make sense gradually, so long as you keep your promise. If you break your promise, you will never be able to read it.”

His excitement was rekindled. She bade him goodbye and he ran off back up the mineshaft, game forgotten. He hid the book in his satchel. It was late when he got back and his parents asked him where he had been. He lied easily.

He never spoke a word of the witch. Pavel spent hours studying the book in libraries and under the sheets. It was written in codes, in jumbles of glyphs, symbols and diagrams. Yet, as he uncovered at painstaking length, it was no spellbook. It was a diary, containing the life of a witch., He became obsessed with discovering the truth.. Twelve years and seven days after he had met her, he completed his work. The book lay open; his final translation scribbled on a single sheet.

This shall be my final entry. It is the evening of 5th April 1971, and tomorrow I shall be leaving society. I doubt I shall ever return, the risks are too great. Dear reader, you have already heard much of my trials. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing in my sadness. No doubt you have many questions. I cannot hope to answer them all, but I hope that this will suffice.

I am one for whom life was an endless plateau. For whom everything was of dwindling insignificance. I possessed a Midas' touch that turned all trivial. The greatest questions of physics, mathematics, philosophy were as clear to me as the sun in the sky. There existed nothing I ever found that was more than a mere diversion. I could have dedicated myself to the betterment of humankind, but I did not. You may find that decision unforgivable. You may think me cold and distant, looking upon my fellow kind as I would ants or termites.

There may be an element or truth in that, as there is in all things, but believe me when I say it was for the best. People are not ready for my counsel, but more than that, it is not my place to give it. It is not the lot of the one to replace the many. It would be the robbery of the valiant exertions that make up our finest moments. I would become a thief of the greater part of your future, and that I cannot do.

So I am leaving now, not for my good but for yours. Take heart that, barring the unforeseeable, things will turn out for the best. The human heart is a fickle thing, but it always tends to the correct course, in time.



Pavel left Moscow in haste and returned to the quarry. Down again the mine where he had once counted footsteps in the dark. But the old woman was gone, and all that she owned; all save a single candle that burned in the middle of the cave. All around, his shadow waltzed across the walls to the whims of the flame. Pavel picked the candle up. It was dangerous without a light.

He pinched the wick. It was a test of bravery, not of strength. The shaft went deeper still, even for a short-strided man such as himself.

Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.
In and such.

Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.


“I am being careful.”

If anybody needed to be careful, it wasn't him. The way Barry kept fidgeting like that, you'd think he was addled. Essentially he was - but whatever. He just needed to stay loving still. It was goddamn distracting that's what it was. The way he kept trying to leer over his shoulder, gently caress gently caress, couldn't he just get off his case for one second?

“Barry, back off man. You've got hands like cerebral palsy. Just let me do my thing.”

Barry sunk back like a wounded puppy, at last. He needed peace for his art. The tools of his trade – credit card, syringe and tweezers – were all laid out. He was delicate and precise with them, like a spider weaving a web. Yeah just like that.

drat. This was not the time to be thinking about spiders. Subconscious betrayal thinking about spiders at a time like this, that's what it was.

“Barry, tell you what. Can you do a spider check? Do it real sneaky like though, and don't make any breeze for chrissake. And if you find one, don't show me or tell me. Just kill it 'kay?”


Barry sounded a little dejected. He'd get over it though, if he hadn't forgotten already. Besides, that was what he got for being a nuisance. Spider-duty.

Yeah now he couldn't stop thinking about spiders. Great.

Barry rose from the floor and made a breeze. His carefully crafted lines wafted a little over the factory floor, losing definition. His eye twitched and he wiped a bead of sweat from his forehead. He corrected them wordlessly with the patience of a Zen master raking a sand garden.

With the tweezers, he laid out a geometric array. Red pills, green caps, blue lozenges and every type and colour in between. This was his palette. It was tapestry, a map of future thoughts, a story in pharmaceuticals, a Fauvist suicide note. Euphoria in orange plastic crested white dunes of nameless compounds. Gelatinous rivers of existential fulfilment flowed down valleys of introspection and tearful childhood memories.

From above it looked like a flower. A simplistic child's drawing of a flower doodled in primary colour crayons. But from ground level, approached from the canvas itself, it was a landscape. An inhalable, edible landscape.

Barry clomped back breezily so he stuck his hands around his creation jealously, attempting to shield it from Barry's ignorant breeze-making.

“Aren't you done yet?” Barry whined.

“Yeah, I'm done, I'm done.”

He smiled regally at his own creation. This was it, the psychical haymaker he'd been looking for. Forget slipping the surly bonds of earth, this, this would make you soar, rise and fall, crash into the surface of the loving sun. You'd be consumed in an inferno and frozen in nitrogen, you'd remember the future and forget the past. No matter that your physical form might not make it out the other side. It would be happily shed on the path to a higher plain. Barry probably didn't appreciate that.

“Can we do it now? Can we?” Barry tugged at his jacket.


There was no reason why not. He didn't like to watch Barry do it though. Hated to see him do it in fact. It was like watching a philistine defacing an old master. It was an uncomfortable experience.

Together, but facing askance, they lay down on their bellies. The process itself was one of artistic expression. The inhumanity of man. Very powerful stuff.

There was a momentary pause when both of them licked their chops in anticipation. Then they wiggled forward like worms. They were a pair legless truffle pigs, snuffling and snorting and gobbling all at once. Fat tongues dragged across the cold floor, nostrils flared and molars cracked down on technicolour capsules. It was a writhing two-man orgy of art.

The bitter chemical taste bled into burning fingertips, pupils drank in liquid air and his teeth bit into melt-in-the-mouth concrete. He smelt honey, reached forward, and sucked the thorny tongue of Aphrodite.

And there he was again, in the gallery. Smug grin plastered on his face, Armani suit and Jimmy Choo brogues, posse of admirers lapping up his words and arm draped round some impressionable art-school girl.

A touch on the hand - that disgusting old critic. But something was different. The touch wasn't the usual clammy old skin - it was furry and soft.

The critic stepped in front of him, filled his vision. It was not Roger Mountbatten Esq., not by a long shot. It drooled and chittered, mandibles glistening in the gallery lights. The posse was gone, the art-school girl disappeared. Furry legs shred their way through critics suit and pinned him down. He screamed.

Barry watched the tiny spider crawl into James' gaping mouth, burst into tears, and laughed.

Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.

Bad Seafood posted:

Jeza - Welcome to the Spiderdome

This is beautifully written for how little sense it makes. It's got a good personality but left me feeling more than a little schizophrenic; until you named the other guy James in the last sentence I thought this whole thing was Barry talking to himself and sending himself out to do things, while still somehow being there. Looking back on it now, if you had just bothered to name both your characters near the beginning and continued to refer to them as such, you could have avoided this.

Unfortunately, even if you had, it wouldn't feel like a smaller story tucked inside of a bigger one. As a stand-alone thing it shows some promise, but in this week, in this Thunderdome, it failed.

I take your point about it not feeling particularly within a larger story. I tried to gesture as to the context that led up to the story but it didn't stop the whole thing feeling like the definite end of a narrative thread and basically just tacked on. I'm glad it felt schizophrenic though - that was the idea - but disappointed that I ended up making the characters indistinguishable. I did try and go through and excise every instance of what I saw as character confusion, because I wasn't willing to sacrifice the whole 'in his head' vibe for the more clinical and uninteresting NAME DOES THIS OTHER NAME DOES THAT y'know? I'd hope if the flash prompt hadn't been there, a reader might more quickly latch onto the fact they were separate people.

And yeah I had fun writing it Oxxi. Serious angsty depression gets to critical levels in TD sometimes.

Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.
In, yes.

Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.
:siren: Thunderbrawl - Noah vs Nubile Hillock :siren:

Prompt - Story must feature a 'flash' and a 'rule'

You can decide how you want to interpret that. 750 Words, submit by the same deadline as this week's TD.

Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.
Speak or Hold Your Peace - Word Count: 985

Stormy weather and The Short Shrift was always filled to the brim. Froth spilled from wayward pints with the same inevitability as the drunks stumbling out into the street in each others' arms. Everything in the place was stale – the beer, the piss, the sweat on their backs. But the atmosphere was lively with desperation and bonhomie. Those days on the docks you took the days as they came, even when they came less and less. I don't want to bore you with the details, but you should know that much. The men in there, they weren't bad people. They were good men in a bad place. There were fights, of course there were fights, but nothing ever out of hand. A broken nose here, a black eye there – the trivial results of trivial bickering and usually deserved.

But I want to tell you about one thing in particular, something that's stayed with me. There was a boy, I think his name was Peter, but everybody just called him 'boy' or 'lad'. He can't have been older than thirteen – he was always hanging around, making a little nuisance of himself. His father, Arthur, I had only met once or twice but I knew him by reputation. He was killed in some accident a few years previous. As was the custom in those days, the fellas looked out for his kid and his widow. Or that was the theory. In practice that usually meant amusing themselves by getting him drunk, showing him how to handle himself in a fight or the ways of women. So it wasn't an education approved by Her Majesty's Government, but it was about all they had to teach.

This night, like I say, things were much as they usually were. There was a man whose name I confess I cannot recall at the bar. Peter was around all the tables, wheedling for a drink or attention. At some point, Peter approached this fellow at the bar. What he said or did, I can't say. But the man rose from his stool and gave the boy such a stare. It was at this point that I looked up from my drink and really took notice of the pair of them, and I remember it stark-like, so this is the God's truth.

The boy raised his fists. I remember laughing at that, sensing some mock sparring was about to occur.

The man assumed a fighting posture. He wasn't young by any measure. His face was salty and grizzled, his arms had that all sinew and no muscle look to them. There wasn't any humour in his eyes and he was steady as a rock. He didn't sway like a drunkard, so I can only assume he was cold sober.

The kid swung a punch that wouldn't tickle my chin. The man lunged, grabbed the boy by the crown of his head and slammed him bodily into the bar. Let me tell you, you've never seen so riotous a menagerie go so silent. All eyes swiveled, and beer leaked out of open gobs. The man stepped forward, picked up the poor lad by his shirt cuff, and started punching him again and again. Short, sharp jabs to the face and chest. Boy just hung there like a ragdoll, shuddering from the blows.

The barman shouted and there was an uproar, a bruiser stepped forward to grab the guy, but the man whipped around and laid him out cold with the fastest punch I ever saw. The boy, he slithered to the floor between the bar stools. Things were about to get hectic. The sense of pent up energy in the place was galvanic. I suspect had things fallen differently, that man would have been beaten to a pulp on the spot.

But nothing of the sort. The man held everybody in their place with a spell.

“I'm done,” he announced.

It was a strange thing, yes, but that seemed to take the wind out of many sails. People didn't know what to think. The prevailing emotion was one of guilt almost, like everybody had already failed in their duty to protect. And if you know anything about a man's heart, guilt is only anger in waiting – so this was only a temporary reprieve. If he had run, he would have been stopped. But he didn't even try. He kneeled down and scooped the boy up, delicate as you like, and planted a kiss on the kid's forehead. The boy was unconscious, face a bloodied mess. The man produced a hanky from inside his coat and began to clean his face. The whole room just stared. We were waiting for normal service to resume, for reality to kick back in. But it didn't.

Still holding the boy, the man made for the door. And the crowds parted for him. Tears rolled down his face in thick streaks. At the exit he turned and looked back with a tearful smile and said:

“He's my son.” He wept freely for all to see, and walked away.

The men in the pub that night, they were broken down. Drinks were left on tables, conversations left in pieces. The dregs of the docks slopped out the doors and washed into the gutters. It was never spoken of again.

I have spent many a moment thinking about what he said and what he did. Was the boy truly his son? Was he a lover to Arthur's widow or was the boy not Arthur's? In truth, the mystery of it haunts me. Sometimes I just think the man must have been mad, other times I think I surmise some deeper motive behind his actions. The place was never the same afterward, that much is for sure.
Still, enough tales from this old man. About that drink...?

Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.

i've done tihs four you baudo

Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.
:siren: Thunderbrawl Results :siren:

Noah posted:

Afterschool Duel

I certainly feel we've all gained some insight into the inner landscapes of both of your minds, and my, they ain't so pretty. We're talking phallic mountains and giant arse-crack crevasses with rivers of poo poo.

Still, that aside, both entries were decent. Both of them hit both points of the prompt, even though it would be pretty hard to gently caress that up god knows I'm sure plenty of people in here would. However, as a wise movie once taught me: There can only be one. So with the power invested in me by absolutely no-one, I pronounce the victor of the brawl to be Noah. The characterisation and overall cohesiveness of the piece was a rung above and therefore is the winner. Congrats. That gives you an enviable 4-0 record.

If you wish to take it to a best of three, shoot.

I may even append some crits onto this after I go and get a drink. Get excited.

Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.
I'll take you on Sitting.

In a place without internet though, so my prompt checking may be sporadic.

EDIT: Also find it interesting you found the father-son punchline coming, cos when I wrote it, I wrote it with him not being the father at all. Writing is weird, yo.

Jeza fucked around with this message at 10:44 on Mar 20, 2013

Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.
I was gonna be like nah I probs don't have time. But meh, 500 words ain't no thang. In.

Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.
Posting this on my phone. I aint forgotten you SH. Got my TD and brawl entry done, be able to post them tomorrow. Sorry to keep you on tenterhooks.

Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.
A Noble Quest - Word Count: 800

To kill a chimaera requires a man possessing all the qualities of the chimaera itself. A lion's strength, a serpent's, a goat's modesty. These, and certainly the blessing of Artemis, are necessary. Fair to say that a man possessed of all these is a true hero, fairer still to say that a vessel containing them is uncommon found.

Once, in the ancient kingdom of Corinth there lived two warriors of peerless skill named Ephyxas and Bellerophon. Ephyxas a cobbler's son, with strength and hands unfit for the work of his father. The other, Bellerophon, was son of Corinth's king. He had all the grace and litheness of a panther. His neglect of his blood's calling caused his father many nights of lamentation, for Bellerophon was his only son.

Both were born under a strange star and destiny had long twined their fates together. As children, they ignored the wonts of their parents and ran together into the mountains, to wrestle tigers and joust stags. There had a bond of brothers, though one of them was common-born and the other of royal blood.

As adults, the citizens of Corinth grumbled openly at their Bacchic antics. They complained that Bellerophon brazenly seduced their wives and that Ephyxas drank wine enough for ten men and wrought havoc. With heavy heart the king decided that the two of them could not stay. He devised a scheme that would both appease his subjects and offer his son a chance to redeem himself.

His friend, the king of Caria, wrote often about the woes he faced at that hands of a chimaera. It razed his crops and burned his villages. He wrote that even his finest soldiers could not hope to best it. So he summoned his son and Ephyxas and commanded them to slay the beast. He warned them that without proof, they would not be allowed back into Corinth. The king gave to Bellerophon his own father's blade, and the cobbler gave to Ephyxas his finest hobnail hammer.

The journey took many months, but when they arrived the king of Caria was overjoyed and hosted for them a feast. The next day, they set off to search for the chimaera. It wasn't long before they found it, curled up and napping upon the charred embers of a house.

They charged, but the chimaera had only been under the pretence of sleep. It swung its razor claws and they narrowly avoided injury. From there, they fought the beast for many hours without change. However, one of its paws caught a loose rock and slipped. Bellerophon leapt upon its back and brought his blade down hard into its neck.

But to his horror, it was his blade that snapped. The serpent's tail of the chimaera hissed and struck him from behind. Ephyxas roared and with his hammer crushed the paws of the beast. It collapsed from the blow, and he, picking up the broken blade, drove it into the brain of the chimaera killing it instantly.

Bellerophon regained consciousness and seemed fine unafflicted. Eager to return home, they took pieces of the chimaera as proof: Bellerophon the lion's head and Ephyxas the serpent's tail. They left only the carcass of a goat behind.

Upon their return to Corinth, they were paraded around the streets, for they brought much glory to the kingdom. The king and cobbler embraced their sons and a festival was called in their honour. At the festivities, the king took both Bellerophon and Ephyxas aside.

“My son, you have done Corinth proud. I see it is you that carries the head of the beast – say it was you that slayed the beast and you shall have my blessing to become king.”

Bellerophon hesitated before saying “Yes, 'twas I that struck the mortal blow.”

Ephyxas smiled and said “'Tis true, he saved me from the beast's jaws.”

The king wept with joy and announced to the festival that the one who had slain the chimaera would become their king. At the news, the people rejoiced.

But that night, the chimaera's poison resurged in Bellerophon's veins. He grew pale, and writhed in his bed. Ephyxas stayed with him through the night, but by the dawn Bellerophon had succumbed. When the guards discovered what had occurred, Ephyxas was dragged before the king. In a rage, the king ordered him executed for his traitorous act, accusing him of seeking to usurp the throne. Seeking that he suffer as his son did, the king ordered that he be pierced by fangs of the serpent head that had been brought back. It was done, but the poison had no effect. Cursing his noble heart, the king had Ephyxas banished, while he and his kingdom wallowed in their misery, soon falling into ruin.

Conscience Round - Word Count: 347

A horrible thing is often just a composition of many simple things. The crack of a gavel, a short straw, a blindfold. Who said you had to run in any particular direction? Why does it mean anything when the judge brings the hammer down or you pull the shortest straw in the bunch?

It didn't mean anything no matter how hard Thomas thought about it. In the dull lantern light of the dug-out he stared at the little stick in his hand.

Sir, I was with him when the shell struck. He was just confused, dazed. He didn't know what he was doing-


The colonel's booming voice was a gramophone record skipping back again and again. Non-sense. No sense. Which one of them was making no sense, he wondered.

The colonel was a mutton-chopped leviathan from another era. A man of honour and integrity, wreathed in a miasma of jackboot polish and moustache wax. You could hear the tinkle of his medals at thirty yards, bravery under fire among them. But what fire? Rifles and cannon? Had he seen artillery reduce a man to atoms? Or watched a line of men cut down like slices of bread by a machinegun?

The mournful cry of a bugle quavered, the poor man's death knell.

The mud in the trenches was strangely grey as he walked out, like it had rained so much that the very colour of the earth had seeped from it. He squelched to the allotted place, stood to attention, received his rifle and solitary bullet and stood side by side with seven other unhappy men. He turned it between his fingers. Was it live or blank? Did it matter? He chambered it regardless.

Harry was led towards the post, face hidden behind ragged cloth. If he sobbed, it was muffled by the drizzle. A priest and an officer spoke at length, giving a façade of legitimacy to the proceedings. It couldn't be kept up indefinitely. Silence settled.

A shouted word, the contraction of an arm muscle, another word, the twitch of a finger.

Yes, both were late, but I had to loving copy them out from handwritten copies in a public library so if you got a problem I'll use your spine like a straw to suck up your internal organs. Also I had to cut that brawl entry by like 400 words because I don't have a wordcount in my head irl, so if it seems a little clipped at points it's because I hate you and all you stand for. Enjoy.

Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.

systran posted:

Flash Rule on myself:

The first person to quote this needs to post the name of a song. That song is what I have to use for my submission.

The song must not fall under Nubile Hillock's definition of Top 40 that would make me automatically lose.

Total Eclipse of the Heart.

Also, I don't have time to write this week. But I will have time to judge, so I can do that if still needed.

Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.
I've sent my picks to Hillock. Those on the shortlist have every reason to be quaking in their boots.

Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.
If I get time in between my massive amounts of work I might provide some vague, food-stuff pairings for your stories so you understand what they tasted like to read.

Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.

systran posted:

I did not expect that. I loving hated the song too and still do.

um disqualified for not liking best song in universe

Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.

sebmojo posted:

:frogsiren:ULTRACRIT SUPASTAR:frogsiren:

You rang?

<Jeza> Khris Kruel: BAD
<Jeza> Rather Watch Them: Dunno what I just read, almost not bad. almost.
<Jeza> pug wearing a hat: So like, is Hank gay? POMEGRANATE MARTINI?
<Jeza> Nikaer Drakin: Competent, if cliché and sappy.
<Jeza> SpaceGodzilla: DUMB
<Jeza> Kaishai: Middling. Blue Oyster cult ftw though.
<Jeza> CantDecideOnAName: Kind of liked this. Crisp and clear.
<Jeza> CancerCakes: T'aint bad.
<Jeza> systran: Written well, lacks the real emotional weight potential. Gimmick premise.
<Jeza> Steriletom: Not even that bad, y'know.
<Jeza> black.lion: Dahl-esque. Decent-y.
<Jeza> Noah: Breadth of style. This is touching and doesn't pander like a retard. Some stylistic points need to be ironed out.
<Jeza> Chewie23: Kinda like eating a regular sandwich. Mildly satisfying but very mundane.
<Jeza> Chairchucker: Candyfloss. Seriously though, no word of a lie your dialogue is some of the best in TD and has been for a while. Too bad you never show off anything else.
<Jeza> Symptomless Coma: Sad :( Mostly on the right side of sappy.
<Jeza> Jagermonster: Passable, but dry.
<Jeza> Black Griffon: hummmmmmmm p. good I guess maybe. not feeling it though.
<Jeza> sebmojo: good as always, but lacks the eponymous 'mojo'. I really wasn't feeling your heart and soul behind this one.

I have been forced to post these for your perusal. I did change my opinions on a few of these pieces so don't piss your pants if you don't like my instant reaction notes. My proper crits will come and may be more helpful.

Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.

Since Pillock already gave you beggars pretty thorough once overs, I'll be doing it a little differently and just scream small soundbites that you might possibly remember.

Khris Kruel

The Good

You put the prompt in.
You tried.

The Bad

You tried too hard with the prompt. Clothing is rammed down throat very unceremoniously.
Homogeneous sentence structure. Just read the first four paragraphs. Not one single comma. Short-sharp-staccato sentences. There is literally no flow to be found.
Cliché Melodrama (She felt no pain, There was only light, coughing up blood, leaning in and getting stabbed etc)
Misguided attempt to cram a whole backstory and universe in a flash fiction piece.
Dialogue stilted and disconnected from the emotions I am being _told_ and not _shown_ within the piece.
Some very questionable turns of phrase (Bloody stump of a head? 'Peturbed' sword? Pedaled as a synonym for run etc)

There is more to be said here, but really you have enough to work on here.

The Ugly Verdict

Like being trapped in your house and having no food left and being forced to eat a can of dog food and you know it's gonna be bad but then it is just so much worse than that but you have to keep eating 'cos otherwise you'll starve and it is just horrible.

Rather Watch Them

The Good

Effective characterisation.
Basic grammar: check
Set-up, Build-up, Conclusion: check
Kinda nice first line.

The Bad

The superimposition of his thoughts onto reality was very unclear. I just read Pillock's line-edit and I don't think he spotted it. I sure didn't on my first reading.
Unengaging, detached tone throughout.
Poor pacing.
Some truly incredibly overdone sentences about really boring things. 'She sustains her patience, eyes on the ground to count red bricks and make sure not to step on his feet or the end of her purple dress. There are more.
You clearly haven't read through this properly, I can spot multiple missing words/grammar even at a glance.

The Ugly Verdict

Like going on a moonlit dinner with a cute girl to some Italian joint but it's cold outside and it turns out she's a robot in human guise or something and you really want to enjoy your cannelloni but everything is starting to taste like wallpaper paste and you wish you had brought a coat and in fact you really just want to leave.

pug wearing a hat

The Good

Glimmers of realistic dialogue. Glimmers, mind.
At least I fully understood all the way through what was happening at all times.

The Bad

(haha quirky use of parentheses)(who even does that anymore)(gently caress you)
Chat up line, kill me.
Röyksopp are amazing.
That ending line, holy poo poo that ending line.

The Ugly Verdict

Like being in a bar and enjoying whatever the bartender makes you which is secretly pomegranate martinis but then people in bar question your sexuality and then the bartender tells you he's been using cat piss instead of vermouth and you still liked it so you laugh and think he is joking but on the way home loads of cats come and piss on your shoes to mark their territory and you know it was all true, every word.

Nikaer Drakin

The Good

Hark! Do mine eyes deceive me? Do I detect appropriate use of imagery and contextual language?
All the basics are more than satisfactory.
Adept pacing.

The Bad

Overzealous, overwrought. This story is where adjectives go to die. Look how many times you have 'adjective, adjective'. Down at the docks we call 'dese pleonastic tautologies mister.
Cliché - girl at masked ball disappearing into crowd.
Belief in destiny does not a coward make, just an idiot.
The dry humour of the protagonist begins to flake away towards the middle and end.

The Ugly Verdict

Like being at a sumptuous seven-course banquet where the food is great but by the sixth course you are stuffed but you really have to keep eating because you are paying for this and then instead of the iced water you ordered the waiter keeps bringing more Bordeaux and you have to drink it because jesus christ this is good wine but your stomach can't take it and by the end of the meal you are really regretting it and you feel kind of like an idiot.


The Good

I can see you know some words, and possibly how to deploy them in an interesting manner.
The premise is genuinely kind of quirky and fresh.

The Bad

The pacing is really quite bad.
The amount of pointless sentences is mind-boggling.
The ending is the dumbest thing in the English language.
Dialogue 'needs work' in the same way that a bridge without supports 'needs work'.

The Ugly Verdict

Like going to the seediest dive bar you can find and while slowly getting enticed by the grimy atmosphere you notice they have 3 Michelin stars for some reason and serve the finest quality food so you make your order and are waiting expectantly but it doesn't arrive so you run to the kitchen and can see all the chefs are trapped behind some giant perspex wall trying to get out and you run to exit but find an invisible perspex wall blocks your escape too and you panic and begin to get scared and then a loving stampede of horses breaks in one of the rotting smoke-stained walls and tramples you and your friends to death and your last thought is that drat woulda been nice to have that lobster, you didn't even think about your family or poo poo.


The Good

Believable? In my TD?
Nice turns of phrase and narrative voice.
One of the better combos of song/prompt interpretation.
Really, there is nothing grievously wrong with it.

The Bad

He or she - SEVEN FEET TALL - probably a he. Probably some freak of nature more like.
The dialogue is nicht so gut. "I beg your pardon. The scythe properly belongs to Death." He tapped the butt of its handle against the floor. "This particular scythe properly belonged to a farmer who let me hunt for props in his barn before he knocked it down. Shame on you, making assumptions." Look at this, LOOK AT IT KAISHAI. You aren't writing as a door-to-door salesperson.
I'm not convinced of the import of the scythe in this story at all.
The tempo never goes above allegretto, which is why my initial reaction was simply: Middling. The intrigue, mystery, suspense never reaches any kind of satisfying crescendo.

The Ugly Verdict

A first date with a charming young man who fixes you up a rather nice candlelit dinner and you have a pretty good time and are looking forward to a second date but he never replies to your texts and none of your friends know him and nothing ever comes of it after all which leaves you feeling slightly miffed and off-key for about a week.


The Good

I learnt a new word (ropable).
Scene-setting is actually pretty good. Sadly I am incredibly ignorant of the Teddy Boy culture and all that entails, so I was unable to get a full grasp of this without Google - hence my initial reaction. I did know all about Vicuña though.
Passable dialogue.
I liked the lyrical insertions. Felt vaguely Tarantino.

The Bad

Pacing is shot, in that it is too fast.
You use lots of words, but in the end only the second half really gets going at all. The whole stuff about clothing is told in an unconvincing, exposition-laden manner.
Something about the ending of 'gentle swearing' makes me laugh inappropriately. Like someone leaning forward seductively and whispering shitfuckfuckprick in my ear.
As was something notable about systran's entry, you use asterisks to deploy changes of scene and time. Consider carefully how often you want these, if at all, in a flash fiction piece. If you find you are using them more than once, chances are you are squeezing in too much in too little space.
It is not worth having Terry and Sally as named characters. It muddies the waters, they become totally pointless. They have more presence in the end than the relationship we are meant to care about, which is Hannah and Martin.

The Ugly Verdict

A friend invites you to a pretty swell new diner and you get a giant milkshake which is tasty and you are feeling pretty good about yourself but then your wife phones saying something has come up so you have to suck it down super fast which is lame so you drive back home and it turns out it wasn't even anything worth rushing back for.

Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.
In with the grisly fusion of known reprobate SaviourX's story In The Details and WHR 49.5's losing entry Walls.

Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.

Martello posted:

sock it to me tough guy

Hell, if she doesn't give you a soppy romance story then nothing is right in this world.


Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.
An object lesson in futility; Or how to gently caress poo poo up but be reassured by the fact you know nothing even matters - Word Count: 1050

In the void of extra-stellar space, it resided. It – for it defied any real classification - was walls, twisting flexing sticking staying in the same place and yet never still for a second. They curved and recurved, flicked perpendicular to parallel and looped into recursions. If they hadn't been hidden, pitch on pitch against the backdrop of nothing at all, it would jackknife sane minds into gibbering insanity and throwtheir thoughts down twisted cul-de-sacs and nightmarish dead-ends – and all that at a glimpse. If the faintest hint of starshine happened to glint off an edge or pick out a corner of the whole, and you cared to leave your gaze to linger for just a moment, your corporeal form would instantly decay, broken down into its constituent elements. Nobody had yet ventured a guess as to how that happened.

That was, unless you were chosen. Current mathematical estimates put the odds at around 0.0000001923. No significance was currently attached to that number, nor any noticeable correlating factors between those that had been chosen. They came to the walls as pilgrims, in vast numbers, from innumerable different species. A continual flow of the curious, the pious, the dissatisfied and the dying. And so incredibly rarely, one was whisked away inside the walls rather than dissassembled at a molecular level. All who came were at the Creators' cold whims.

The universe has a unique way of disappointing people, and though the peculiar native religions of pre-expansion species had long foundered on the rocks of logic and science, the walls remained. Permanent, ineffable, incomprehensible. They were all the gods that were left, the eccentric and fickle tinkerers who ground nearly all who dared look upon them into stardust. Those who sought knowledge and those who simply looked on in wonder – their worshippers were simply the source of their building materials. These were not the benevolent and caring gods of old, but the gods we had come to deserve, so the doomsayers said.

Inside the walls, mostly they built for their own amusement. Every few millennia they might eject some trinket to the Outsiders, when their stocks of raw material were running low. Their region of space had once been brimming with matter, but theirs was a hungry business. Ancient, long-dead species had feared them as stareaters, planetgobblers. These days, their creations were more modest and their aspirations less resource-hungry.

This universal cycle, the theme was universal religions. The inside of the walls had been fabricated in the style of temple, a composite of holy sites from a million sentient races. The air was thick with incense and the warm glow of candlelight. Great drapes of velveteen fabric hung from the ceilings and softened the floor in dazzling arrays of colours. Pinks, blues, greens and purples and more without name, in wavelengths visible to a tiny fraction of living beings.

J81 lounged upon a recliner, languid as a Grecian deity. It brushed its crooked claw along the console screen, through Quadrant, Galaxy, System, Species, Religion. It had been creating the schematic for the Christian Devil, indeed, even now that creation was soon to emerge from the quickening womb. But J81 was unhappy, so far as something like it could be unhappy. Something was wrong with the schematic, it knew, it just couldn't work out what. The cryptopsychic analysis had been faultless, but the subconscious manifestation embodiment was odd. He couldn't get the console to give him a satisfactory outcome. It was like the species had never bothered to credit their evil spirit with one single form.

H99 melded into the workspace without warning from a tapestry “Is there issue, J81?” it inquired.

“Perhaps,” it said. “The form may be unconcrete. I mind this outcome, disappointing.”

The pair of them watched, silent and focused, like doctors attending to the birth of a child likely to be stillborn. The womb-chamber gave a sonorous chime and emitted a golden shaft of light. It split open like an overripe fruit, and from it the Devil emerged.

Lucifer, king among the fallen angels, flopped out of the chamber onto the floor. He stood shakily, and looked around. At last! He was corporeal...but why? He struggled to remember the circumstances of his physical instantiation, couldn't. He gave two sweeps of his powerful wings and flexed his talons. Or, what actually happened, was his palsied, shrivelled wings gave two limp little wiggles and his claw-nubs extended about as threateningly as a kitten's. He looked around and caught sight of two bizarre and gigantic beings with disappointment written on their faces.

“What trickery is this!” his voice squeaked rather than boomed.

One of the giants reached forward and scooped Lucifer up.

“Apologies, yes, Lyaoshiffer,” J81 stumbled over the alien pronunciation. “We have questions for records, indeed. Sadly, physical form not as expected. Your forgiveness, I mind.”

Lucifer raged tinily. “Insolence!” he roared, and launched a ball of hellfire at the creature's arm. It sizzled and puffed into a little wisp of smoke upon the being's shoulder. He was vexed.

J81 and H99 shared a look. H99 swivelled on its gyroscopic midsection and sidled into the debate “Your co-operation, if possible, yes, is preferable.”

Lucifer burned with malcontent “However, you've achieved this, believe me that you will regret it. I'll take you to heights of unknown suffering, I'll burn all you hold dear, I'll ruin...” Pop.

J81 invoked a containment schematic and sighed. “Hoomon religion so unwieldy. Unmanageable. This one is become bored. Perhaps will work in some other cycle.” In its hand, a perfect recreation of the walls shifted and twisted in perpetuity. Inside, the tiny Devil cursed impotently. J81 tossed the pseudo-hypercube down a little chute to the filing department.

“Commiserations fellow,” comforted H99.

“Gracious acquiesence,” J81 replied “I would be shown latest deviations in corona creation.”

H99 smiled “This one hoped and minded.” At that, they both dealigned and realigned elsewhere.

Down in the archives, Lucifer sat in black nothing of walls between walls within walls. He fantasized of escape but knew there was none to be found. There was nothing left for him except for the walls in between.

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