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Noah
May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch


Jumping in to open myself up for a Thunderbrawl again. Anyone feeling frisky?

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Noah
May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch


Are you allowed to Brawl me since you're a judge this week? Or did I read the OP wrong. Anyway:

Signing in, and waiting for Sebmojo flash rule.

Edit: Welp, Sestina it is.

Flash Rule:

Iambic Pentameter.

Noah
May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch


Benagain posted:

The way I read the Brawlin rules was that I can't judge it, obvs, but otherwise no restrictions. Not like judging duties take a lot of time during the week itself.

Okay, 3 rounds, you pick the judge.

Noah
May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch


SurreptitiousMuffin posted:

gently caress yes. Call me a canary 'cos thread #1 is in the GOLDMINE.

A little concerned about not being able to edit my posts in the thread anymore. I feel wanting to send stories out, you would want to remove it from here avoid any publishing rights drama.

Noah
May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch


SurreptitiousMuffin posted:


FLASH RULE: Poem must be a sestina. Suck it, person below me.

edit: this frees it from the 350 word minimum.

Flash rule: Sestina http://poetry.about.com/od/poeticforms/g/sestina.htm

Bite of the Grind

You! Take note of the Grind!
Bite down and taste the blood
Open your eyes and shake the rust
Servant of Heaven we are a tool
Tasked with souls to save,
Bask in the power.

Without your power,
Succumb to the bite of the grind.
Your light you must save,
Don't spill your own blood.
Keep sharp your tool
Or infect the host with rust.

Gurney rolls in, squeek rust!
Ventilator, electricity, buzz power!
Attach the cord, swing tool!
Rough skin, rough eyes, grind!
Ignore the sweat, forget the blood
Do it my way, save!

But no we can't save,
Sickness wins, and we rust.
We fought with our own blood,
And it sapped our power.
This is how it feels to grind.
Merely a blunted tool.

Hands are tied to the tool.
How many we did not save?
This weary slog, our grind.
In our own tears we rust,
Unplug it all, cut the power,
Clean off all this blood.

But now again there's fresh blood,
Arm yourselves, get the tools!
To redeem is true power,
This body we must save,
Fight through the rust,
This is how we grind!

With our tools we can save,
Blood cannot make us rust,
Power in all things, we will beat the grind.

Noah
May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch


Benagain, have you contacted HiddenGecko for judging our Brawl?

Noah
May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch


Down. Don't forget, we're on a 3 round Thunderbrawl HiddenGecko. We'll need two more prompts.

Noah
May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch


HiddenGecko posted:

We're getting into Saturday evening Noah. I'm expecting that poem soon.

Oh sorry, it's only 1pm here. Poem is done, just shaping it. Can you give me a deadline?

Noah
May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch


HiddenGecko posted:

THUNDERBRAWL ROUND I OF III

Contestants: Noah and Benagain. Others may join as well.

Conditions: You're going to write a SHAPE poem.
http://goo.gl/LHMeD will give you an exact idea of what I'm talking about.

Your Prompt: "Canned peaches, a down comforter, and the gardener."

Your prize: MY LOVE

Deadline: Saturday afternoonish. Since this is an artsy kind of prompt and you'll need the time to make it good.

Since the format for this is unconventional you can hand draw your poem, save as a PDF, use html, or even save it as a bitmap. Whatever it takes to get me the poem


Noah
May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch


Fanky Malloons posted:

the thread might get clogged and hard to follow.

As much as I love people trying to dick each other over by letting everyone flash rule another person, I think this is happening. This thread seems to have a lot more noise than the last one.

Noah
May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch


Thunderbrawl Round 2 or 3 v Benagain

Signs

words:423
Dear Emily,

We have finally found grandmother. Her dementia has taken a turn for the worst. In you, I will confess that her latest disappearance is my fault. I have been so exhausted from taking care of her that I fell asleep on the recliner while I was watching a movie, and she slipped out the back door. Not unlike an unruly dog, and of the same mind no less. Did you know in her attempts to escape her room, she clawed up the walls like a scratching post? They were everywhere.

Officer Johnson found her on a park bench, shivering, hungry and near hypothermia. Brad Johnson told me she was babbling about something, and she was very afraid. We did not tell the doctors of her this for fear they would find our home unfit, and though I would love to be rid of her, you know we simply cannot afford to house her anywhere else.

She stayed in the hospital for the night and the doctors checked on all her vitals. She’s strong as an ox, unfortunately. But when it was time to take her home, she became instantly resistant. I was hoping her to avoid another fit until we got her back into her room, but you know Meema. After the sedative, and apologizing profusely of course, we got her into the car.

Then a funny thing struck me. She had done her best to claw me, and everyone else, but her nails were blunted and short. And I know what you are thinking, in her haste to destroy her bedroom she must have destroyed her nails in the process, but her hands were immaculate. Very queer.

I have no idea how I’m going to afford to replace the wallpaper, the scratching goes all the way to the ceiling, which, if she were to move her dresser about the room she could reach. However, there were no scrapes on the wood. The only recourse is to catch her in the act, which will probably prove to be another midnight vigil waiting for the fog to claim her again.

I hope college is going well, and I am glad that at least one our family was able to go. Perhaps I will join you if Meema ever decides to kick the bucket. I kid, I kid, but the exhaustion can make my humor a little morbid sometimes.

I think I can hear her scratching again. Maybe this time I won’t feel guilty about strapping her in for the night.

Love,
Your Father

ps. I know you must be very busy at college, but please E-Mail me back, even just to let me know you got my messages.

Noah
May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch


Can we do away with this clusterfuck of flash rules? Thunderdome thread seems really bloated, with a ton of noise and not a lot of signal. I think streamlining would help out the thread significantly.

edit: also, I know it's been said before, but jesus christ stop defending your piece. It doesn't matter if someone rips it to shreds, it's gonna happen to everyone here. This back and forth is obnoxious and just adds to the clutter.

Noah
May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch



What is this carbs bullshit? Aren't you fat enough?

Noah
May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch


In.

S. Muffin, I'm working on your critique. Poetry is pretty tough for me to critique, so sorry it's taken so long. Will be up today.

Noah
May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch


quote:

entropy or something like it

After many long days I lay down
to sleep in the middle - who knew
rosewood had no smell? Bartolini
mkII and casual epiphany
stowed in a shoebox. poo poo
it's all coming back to me.

Tell me why you cry
kiddo. poo poo I know- I
just wanna hear you say it.
It's eating me inside-out and
that's just the dark cells; venal
things that never once said please.

what happened to my hands? You
always knew them better
than me. We met a man with rags
in his soul and had him drink gasoline;
the cosmic molotov- what we smallfolk call
purpose.

You taste like cloves and you smell like
poo poo but I like that about you, kiddo.
You light my fire- you make my morning
like fresh-juiced OJ and little hairs
stuck in the shower drain.

In the back room of a pizza place
on Cuba we met a man whose head
was a brown peach. He had baby
gums- bare, pink and fragile. You remember?
He said “my lover has fat thighs and my guitar
has five strings and I teach both to sing in
the dead of night,” and he had us
dance until the candle burned down.

There's a fist of dark cells growing
around my heart and one day soon it'll grow
so big that even fire can't kill it.
It's young but it's got promise- it's making
friends, setting down a few roots. Come back
in a few months kiddo and it'll put on a show.

I got locked in the metro once- me
and this 5'2 French bloke smoking gauloises
from 3am til sunup 'cos “there's always
a train running in Paris. Just you wait.”
Nothing came out of that tunnel but
dead air.

We drank them down to the filters;
two hot inches of air to stop the shaking
in our hands. To shake is a fine thing-
it means your heart's still beating. I
shook when the peach man played-
shook until the candle burned down.
You taste like cloves and two inches
of hot air.

I know what you're going to say
kiddo. I just want to hear you
say it.

This critique took me a really long time because honestly, I don’t know where to start. Poetry isn’t my thing, so I’m gonna go with your prompts first.

I have no idea what this poem has to do with death, at all. Is the first stanza rosewood of a coffin? I’m not sure, since I don’t think they make coffins from rosewood. I know they make guitar bodies from rosewood, which Bartolini is a brand name in music equipment, so I assume you’re referring to one of your other prompts, the guitar.

The guitar imagery persists through the poem, and I think that’s a good theme. I think you could have done more with incorporating the guitar itself into the theme of the poem in a more physical sense.

As far as internal rhyme goes, its rare and far between, as though it were avoided on purpose instead of made to strengthen the work. I’m almost reading this now more like lyrics to a song, and I think internal rhyme is an important component to songs working well, so I would have liked to see more from it. I think it would have had a more musical feel to it, which would have incorporated well with the thematic imagery of the guitar.

Stanza 7 seems unnecessary, almost filler. You had a strong line about waiting for the train, and nothing but dead air, but it’s out of place. I interpret that as you had a great line you wanted to work with, but in the end had no place to put it, so you just went for it anyway.

I cannot comment much on meter because I am truly awful at it. For the most part the poem reads well, though there are some troubling line breaks that make me pause mid-sentence, when I know I shouldn’t because the punctuation doesn’t dictate it, yet nevertheless, I see line breaks as pauses. “Who knew rosewood had no smell” was one that stuck out immediately. I also see line breaks as a definite purpose as a function, but in the poem itself I didn’t always see why you chose to break a line when you did.

The inclusion of the words kiddo make the poem a bit pretentious. It heightened the silliness of the portrayal of the narrator. Like, man, this clove smoking, guitar playing, dancing guy is really cliché. You can’t go to any kind of divey bar in a young part of town without drinking beers with these kinds of assholes. They’re a dime a dozen and not worth glorifying, but yet you also didn’t go over the top enough if you were supposed to satirize them.

I think the poem should have been shorter under normal constraints, more directed and less (and I hate to use this word) hip. You’ve got some great images there, but it doesn’t seem sure of itself. I really, really want you to turn this poem into entirely about that peach headed man with his big thighed lover. I think that would be a much better subject. Play with images and have fun with it. The poem needs more fun.

I want to go burn down a thrift store now. Mainly because I never find anything that fits me in one, and everyone else I know always comes out of there looking great.

Noah
May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch


Vonnegut rule: 2 and 3, I hope.


Blood for Blood

Words: 1690

Waning sunlight cast the playground in long shadows. Tiffany and Aaron sat on a bench watching their fellow neighborhood kids dash about. In a few minutes, the street lamps would turn on.

“Are you ready?” Tiffany said.

Aaron said nothing.

“Don’t crap out on me now, he’s right there,” Tiffany said, pointing at Bernie Cratcher. Aaron watched the portly boy chase a younger boy, shoving him hard into the woodbark of the playground. Bernie pushed the smaller boy down again as he tried to get up. Aaron swallowed hard and nodded.

“Lights!” shouted a little girl on the slide. Bernie looked up, gave the small boy one more shove, and trotted off.

“Let’s go,” Tiffany said, grabbing her younger brother’s hand. Aaron grabbed the backpack sitting next to them and followed. Around the corner, Bernie had a good lead on them. Tiffany pulled her hood up and Aaron followed suit.

Stopping, Bernie looked back and saw the siblings behind him halfway down the street. Confusion spread across his face and then his eyes opened wide. His legs began moving before his torso even made it completely around.

Tiffany’s hood caught wind and pulled away from her head, her dirty blonde pony-tail flapping in Aaron’s face. Aaron struggled with the backpack as it dangled from one shoulder. He was falling behind his sister’s long stride.

Bushes cracked as Tiffany tackled Bernie into a vacant yard. Skin slapped against skin in the struggle. Bernie wheezed and huffed, soft squeals instead of words came from his mouth.

“Get it,” Tiffany hissed at Aaron. Fumbling with his backpack, Aaron pulled a damp rag from the bag and pressed it into Tiffany’s hands. Redness filled Tiffany’s face. Struggling, Bernie grabbed her hair causing her to yelp.

Aaron slammed a fist down onto Bernie’s face until he let go of Tiffany. Like a hammer, bouncing off Bernie’s cheeks and nose, smearing blood in small splats. Tiffany shoved Aaron into the dead leaves and dirt, covering Bernie’s face with the rag. Deep grooves in the dirt formed from Bernie’s thrashing feet. Tiffany leaned heavy on the rag covering Bernie’s face.

“Breathe it deep you fat gently caress, breathe,” Tiffany said through clenched teeth. Small leaves flit into the air from Bernie’s hands falling limply at his side. “Get the ropes, Aaron.”

Tiffany looked up and saw Aaron kneeling with his knees to his chest, crying. She sat back, the dirt of the yard spreading around her rear. Rubbing her face with both hands she sighed.

Out of the backpack came the rope to bind Bernie’s hands and feet. Bernie struggled weakly with the rag draped over his face, and Tiffany punched him hard in the chest.

“Aaron, I need you to pull yourself together. We have to get him out of sight, Aaron, please. I need your help. I need you.”

The boy wiped his eyes, and nodded.

“We’re going to get mom and dad back, right? They promised,” Aaron said.

Tiffany pulled him close and stroked the back of his head.

“We’re going to get them back. They promised.”

***

The street lamps buzzed and Tiffany waited for dark. The two siblings sat on their trophy, a tied and gagged child no older than 12. Waiting between a bushy hedge, and an abandoned property, Tiffany ground her teeth. Aaron, her brother, was on the verge of another crying fit. His silent sobs annoyed Tiffany, but she felt guilt nonetheless. There was no other way around it, was there? Besides, Bernie, the listless and drugged boy beneath her, had it coming. He wouldn’t have ran when he saw them if he wasn’t guilty.

Tiffany looked at her watch, one minute before the local news declared sundown. Nighttime. Curfew. When there’s no light, when it’s dead of night, don’t leave your bed, you’ll lose your head. Air raid sirens went off. Leftovers from the Cold War, Tiffany’s parents used to say, now serve as nightly reminders of curfew. Aaron clapped his hands over his ears, he had never been outside when they went off before.

“Come on, we have to move,” Tiffany said. She grabbed the pudgy Bernie and pulled him up to his feet with a grunt. He was groggy, too loving groggy, god damnit. Aaron let out a whine and shook his hands as though they were boneless.

“Cut the ropes on his feet, we’re gonna have to drag him,” Tiffany said, straightening Bernie up as he tried to slump over. Aaron futzed with his boyscout knife. “Aaron, snap out of it, we do not have time for this.”

“But, it’s, the horns, and—“

“We’re going to be fine. They’re waiting for us. We had a deal. They promised. We’ll be fine. But we have to get to them. We have to get Mom and Dad.”

Aaron nodded and sucked in a deep breath. He knelt to Bernie’s feet and worked through the knot he had tied. Within moments the ropes dropped to the ground. Aaron took Bernie under one shoulder, Tiffany took the other. With the grace of a sack race, the siblings darted from one yard to another, resting behind the abandoned houses, sprinting past the houses with lights still on.

The pale green street lamps choked as the pulsating darkness of night closed in. Soon the buzz of the lamps was drowned by whispers. In between their heavy breaths, the sound of chittering and gnashing of teeth floated through the air.

And then a distressed cry for the boy in the middle. Bernie’s father, shouting, howling and whistling in distress somewhere in the night. Tiffany had to bite the side of her cheek to keep from crying herself as they dragged Bernie deeper into the darkness. House after house the calling drifted further and further. Before long they had escaped the worried parent.

In front of them, down a dark bend and ending in a cul de sac, was one house.

“A light on in the upstairs window,” Tiffany recited. They could barely see the road from the light of the street lamps, but they knew the neighborhood by heart. Taking one last moment to catch her breath, Tiffany paused. She swore she could hear laughing somewhere in the darkness but when she would listen, it would not be there. Dogs barked in the distance and shadows fluttered around the waning lights. Tiffany looked at her brother.

“Let’s get them back,” she said. Aaron nodded. They took deep breaths and they started for the house with the light on in the upstairs window.

**

When the three other children saw Bernie they began to cry. Their last hope, dragged before them, drugged into a stupor and covered in blood. Tiffany screamed, and slapped the closest one to her, a girl named Debbie Grestling.

“Shut up! Shut up! You did this! This is your fault, this is all your fault!” Snot began to run down Tiffany’s nose. Aaron dropped Bernie in a heap next to the other children and began to sob himself. Everyone crying, from fear, anger and guilt. “You just couldn’t leave us alone,” Tiffany said, collapsing to her knees. “You just couldn’t!”

“We didn’t mean to, we swear, we swear,” Debbie cried. “It was just a joke, that’s all. We never meant to hurt anyone.”

The basement of the house was dimly lit from oil lamps. Flickering, they cast Tiffany’s shadow across the wall, her hair fraying out like snakes. A door on the other side of the basement groaned as the wood bent. Weight pressing against the door, creaking and cracking. A shadow slid under the crack of the door like oil, feeling its surroundings. The knob turned and the door swung open spilling the darkness into the basement. Flames flickered violently and the shadows of the children rotated around the room dancing across the walls, cavorting unnaturally. Bending, breaking and unraveling the shadows spun, around and around and around.

“We did it! We did what you asked, we had a deal!” Tiffany shouted into the darkness.

“Bring me back my mommy,” Aaron pleaded through sobs.

Debbie screamed for help. Tiffany spun around and slapped her again. Tiffany pulled the girl’s gag back on. Tiffany’s shadow tangling with Debbie’s on the wall as it spun. It was choking Debbie. Choking her until her neck snapped and hanged.

“Flesh for flesh, blood for blood,” came a low croak from beyond the doorway. “Have you brought all of the accused?”

Tiffany nodded.

“A deal struck, paid for in full, a promise kept and promise returned,” the fried and gravely voice said. “The contract is fulfilled.”

From out of the darkness came footsteps. Dazed and disoriented, Tiffany and Aaron’s parents stumbled into the basement. Clutched together, with one arm each trying to guide their way through, they looked at the scene before them. Four children bound and gagged, drugged and weary slumped in a corner, with their children hovering over them. Aaron ran to his mother’s side and cried, and cried.

Confusion was all the parents could muster on their faces. Tiffany ran to her parents and grabbed one of their hands in hers apiece.

“What’s going— ” Tiffany’s father asked.

“I can’t explain, we have to leave, we have to go, come on,” she said.

Tiffany dragged her family up through the stairs, away from the crying children and the fried voice. Hallway, turn a corner, don’t turn back.

“Cover your ears, please,” Tiffany instructed. Cries for help echoed through the walls as though they never left the basement. They were calling for Tiffany, for Aaron, to help them, to not leave them. Louder and louder, they said they were sorry, they were so, so sorry. Wait, just wait, please. The front door of the house appeared and the family ran as fast as they could.

Spilling out into the cold night air, the door slammed behind them and the screams were gone. Silence. No dogs, no laughter, no crying. But every occupied house had their lights on. Silhouettes of every family in front of their windows watching as Tiffany and her family walked down the street, clutched together. Watching, and knowing.

Noah
May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch


twinkle cave posted:

I'm out of time for long critiques this week.

Bummer.

Noah
May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch


SurreptitiousMuffin posted:

"We are selling the shoes of an infant. They have at no juncture been worn."


I actually think this is an amazing line haha. Without the existence of the shorter one, this would be quite a doozy.

Noah
May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch


Congratulations CapnTastic. But I think you're passing up a sick Mad Max avatar.

Noah
May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch


In again.

Noah
May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch


I was doofing around in excel, and while I missed some weeks because I didn't feel like spending a lot of time formatting dumb lists.

But anyway, there have been well over 300 stories written and posted since Thunderdome started. And I think (since I missed about 4 weeks, maybe more of stories) over 100 unique writers. Pretty dang solid.

Noah
May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch


Sometimes you have to submit early because you won't be around on the deadline. If someone wants to crank out their story cause they got other poo poo going on, let em.

Noah
May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch


Work Related Injury

Words: 1400

Byron lived alone. He woke up at noon and swung his legs over the bed, which was a mattress stacked on a box spring. Coldness shot into his feet, his toes wriggled. He yawned exaggeratedly and placed a hand on the small of his back. Still a little sore, he thought, shouldn’t try to go back to work yet. Popping up from the bed he stretched upwards, sidewards and bent over and touched his toes.

In the kitchen of the studio, a coffee maker sat amongst used, disposable coffee cup cartridges. Byron opened the lid and took out the empty pod and put it on the counter. Without letting his hand go, he saw the clutter on the counter and threw the pod at the garbage can. It landed next to other empty pods at the foot of the can. Shoving a new coffee pod in, Byron started the machine and grabbed his keys.

As Byron moved to the front door his phone rang.

“Hello?” Byron said, slipping his foot into his slipper.

“Hi, this is Jesse Parcell, is Byron Wilson there?”

“Byron Wilson, I’m sorry you have the wrong number.”

“This isn’t the Byron Wilson who works at—“ the man said but Byron hung up on him. The phone rang again immediately but Byron left out the front door, letting it continue ringing.

He moved quickly down the first set of stairs, but slowed down and walked gingerly on the last section before the lobby. Looking around and seeing no one, his pace sped back up as he walked to the mailboxes. Dark brown-red streaks ran out from under the brass mailbox wall, directly underneath his box.

Byron paused, his key hovering by the keyhole, as he looked at the streaks. They were still wet, but hadn’t reached the floor yet. No other mailbox had been tampered with. He hoped that some kid hadn’t squirted a juicebox into the mail slot, possibly tampering with his unemployment check.

With a grimace, he fit the key in and turned. Stepping back to avoid the inevitable splash, Byron opened the box. A bomb exploded in Byron’s stomach, numbing everything. He wanted to open his mouth and vomit out electricity and his charred innards. Screaming would fix everything, his body told him.

Byron slammed the mailbox door closed. Looking around, no one around still, he opened the box again. Inside, a human heart sat on top of a sheet of coupons, credit card offers, and his unemployment check. Blood seeped from aortas, a glob pushed out every time it beat. When a minute passed, Byron realized he hadn’t breathed, and he sucked in air desperately.

“Looking for gold,” asked one of his elderly neighbors.

“No gold, haha!” Byron shouted slamming the box closed. His neighbor moved her head back and nodded her head, her eyes wide. Byron hunched his shoulders and stared at her as she walked slowly to the elevator, peering over her shoulder every few steps. When she finally got into the elevator, Byron opened the box and wrapped the still beating heart in the sheet of coupons.

Running full speed up the stairs, he could feel it pulse and shudder. Wetness seeped out from the folds of the coupons, coating his hands in slick, ruddy colored blood. He threw a shoulder against his front door but it wouldn’t budge. Fumbling with his pocket for his keys, he got blood all over his pants, keys and finally the door itself. With each short breath the heart beat in rhythm, as though the heart could sense his urgency.

As he got to his kitchen sink his hands failed, and they went limp, sending the heart tumbling. With a wet squish the heart rolled to the drain and blocked the hole in the sink. More blood flowed from the heart as it stuck in the drain.

Byron stood silent in front of his sink watching the heart. Blood dripped from his hands to the floor and he thought about the garbage disposal. The switch was next to the sink, pointing down towards the floor. He would only have to flick the switch and then give the heart a good push, and then he could just go to sleep, wait for the next day, forget this ever happened.

The heart quivered. His hand slowly moved to the switch. Before he turned the disposal on, his coffee maker beeped and the familiar sound of liquid pouring into his cup relaxed him. Byron washed his hands in the bathroom sink, scrubbing until the blood was mostly gone. Grabbing a sponge and his cup of coffee, he went back downstairs to the mailboxes.

The outside of unemployment check was ruined, but the insides were still fresh. Byron wiped up the mess at the mailbox without incident and started work on the front of his door. He didn’t hear the sounds of footsteps over the scouring side of the sponge.

“Peculiar place to clean,” said a voice.

Byron jumped, and turned. In front of him was a man with a long coat and sunglasses. The man was wearing a white button down and simple slacks, but black comfort boots underneath.

“Can I help you?”

“I’d like to ask you a few questions, uh, are you Mr. Byron Wilson?”

“No, sorry.”

“So you’re not Byron Wilson? Why are you cleaning his door then?”

Byron stood, they were the same average height, but this man’s shoulders were significantly broader than his own.

“Do you live here?” the man asked.

“Yeah, I don’t think I’m going to answer your questions,” Byron said opening the door. The man looked at the sponge in Byron’s hand, stained red, and at Byron’s pocket. The man’s eyebrows scrunched together.

“What’s that on your hands?”

“Have a nice day!” Byron said opening his apartment door and stepping through. As he slammed it closed, the man pushed against the door.

“Hey, gently caress off,” Byron said. The man pushed against the door, but Byron caught it, holding it firmly.

“Awful strong for a man with a bad back injury,” the man said. Byron paused.

“A man with your kind of injury sure moves well,” the man continued.

“Who the hell are you?”

“My name is Investigator Parcell,” the man said.

“Let me see your badge,” Byron said incredulously. Parcell grumbled and pulled out a leather flip wallet. “A private investigator? Oh gently caress off,” Byron said reading the license.

Trying to slam the door again, Parcell kept his foot in the door and his shoulder braced.

“Hey, I said gently caress off before I call the cops.”

“No way buddy, your employers are gonna enjoy what I have to say to them, unless,” Parcell started. Byron grit his teeth, but he didn’t push the door closed.

“That’s what I thought,” Parcell said. “Hey, what the gently caress is that.”

Byron turned around. On the floor the heart rolled, coming to a halt with a small flop. Parcell and Byron froze. Byron turned back and locked eyes with the investigator. Throwing all his weight against the door, Byron tried to push Parcell out into the hall.

“Jesus loving Christ,” Parcell shouted, holding steady against Byron. “You sick gently caress!” Parcell wedged his arm into the door, yelping every time Byron tried to slam it closed. Parcell inched through before finally getting his legs behind him, throwing the door back.

Byron lost his balance, slipping on wet blood, and fell backwards. Landing on his tailbone, fire shot through his lower back. His back spasmed and his muscles tightened around his lower discs.

“Holy poo poo, holy poo poo!” Parcell kept shouting. In his hands he had a taser and mace, pointing them at the heart and at Byron. Byron tried to reach out to him but his back started going completely numb.

“Ack,” Byron said, fighting for air. Pain shot through his entire body, leaving him stranded like a turtle.

Parcell pulled out his cell phone and pressed it firmly against his ear. “Yes! Yes there’s an emergency, there’s been a murder!”

The rest of Parcell’s shouting faded out as static clouded Byron’s hearing. His head arched back, eyes glazing over. In front of him, upside down, the heart sat on the floor. It beat slow and steady, glistening with fresh blood. Sitting there, helpless on the ground, it slowly leaked blood onto the floor.

Noah
May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch


I'll be submitting later tonight.

Noah
May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch


Noah
May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch


In.

Noah
May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch


The Grumble Baboon

Noah
May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch


Oh well. Perhaps TD isn't the best place to experiment, I guess I'll just have to win next weeks.

Noah
May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch


In.

Noah
May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch


Seems like you ain't got a choice, bub.

Noah
May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch


Up and Coming

words: 990

The sounds of heaving and vomit splattering in a tin trashcan with no liner echo through the locker room. The boy, a young man now, an adult, wonders if it’s the nerves, or the hormone supplements. Probably the nerves, he decides.

A man slaps him on the back, Bruce “Diesel” Williams. Oil flicks off their skin and they glisten in the pale locker room light. The boy looks up at his idol, forgetting the saliva coating his lips.

“Just like we practiced all week, kid. Take the cues, get the belt, that’s it,” Diesel says. Their eyes lock. Diesel cracks a half smile. “Congratulations, world champ.” The belt hangs limp over Diesel’s shoulder, he grips it tighter when he says it.

A man in a canary yellow polo comes into to the locker room. “Time to go,” he says, more into the headset microphone than to the boy. The boy checks his pads and adjusts his penis for modesty.

In the ring, he shakes out his legs to a crowd going insane. Hollers, hate, spit and empty plastic cups are thrown. The audience is ready for Diesel to chew him up and spit him out. They writhe out of control as the man stalks down the gangway. Diesel is thumping his chest and spitting like a mental patient let loose, the world champion belt across his waist.

Ref couldn’t look more bored. He knows the drill, he saw the practice. The boy wonders if Ref is annoyed at the upstart. A flash in the pan, jack the giant killer, david and – the bell rings.

Diesel is fast. So fast. Ex-pro footballer, the boy knew. Coming in low, but that means hurdle it. And he’s over, frog hopped, time to show off to the crowd. The boy walks to the ropes and taunts, Diesel will come from behind with a clothesline. Duck it, make him look clumsy, brutish, predictable.

Diesel’s arm sails woefully above the boy’s head. Ref is hanging back, but he’s supposed to be close by because Diesel is going to go for a choke. Ref’s gotta break it up. Meaty fingers seize the boy by the throat, he’s supposed to let go on a 5 count.

There’s a look in Diesel’s eyes, a hunger, he’s not getting a 5 count. Diesel’s fingers dig in, and the boy gets scared. The boy kicks out, making Diesel let go. The kick is wild, bounces off Diesel’s muscular leg. The crowd is one giant cry for blood. This isn’t according to script.

A surprise haymaker comes close to the boy’s ears, he dodges out of instinct. The boy shoots out a punch, landing it right below the armpit. Keep distance, his training tells him. Don’t take him to the ground, too much of a weight disadvantage. Diesel goes in low again for a spear, the boy raises a knee, catching chin. The boy darts sidelong as Diesel squares up again.

Rushing the boy, Diesel lands a kick that the boy lets through. He’s more worried about the follow up. A hammer strike comes down on the boy’s guard, bouncing off, but numbing his forearm. The boy comes in close to limit the arm strikes, but Diesel grabs him by the shoulders and tosses him against a ring post.

Diesel chops across the boy’s chest, like a blunt knife cutting below the skin. It aches immediately. The boy looks at Ref. Ref wasn’t bored, he realizes. Ref’s seen this before. How many other people have been in the boy’s place.

And it goes. The boy punches muscled stone and Diesel ignores him. The boy covers up like a boxer, and Diesel knocks him around the ring. A tackle catches the boy off guard, and they go down. It’s over, the boy thinks. Lie back and wait for the count. Ref slaps the mat twice, he’s rushing, wants this over too. Diesel pulls up on the boy’s shoulder and pretend argues with Ref.

The boy slings a fist into Diesel’s groin. The crowd loses it. Chants, curses, and rage. Diesel turns, a red giant, veins throbbing on his neck and head. He pulls the boy up and slams wild knees into every body part. The boy curls up.

Diesel lands another knee into the boy’s abdomen. His guard drops, he’s gassed. Diesel feels him go limp, and grips the boy’s trunks. With the boy’s head surrounded by meaty arm, Diesel lifts, in one smooth squat and thrust, the boy into the air, the boy’s spine and neck sitting heavy atop Diesel’s shoulder.

Legs bent over backwards, heads side by side, the boy starts to waver. He’s tired, but Diesel holds him aloft like a trophy. The boy can hear the breath whistle through Diesel’s teeth, spit lands on his ear. The boy opens his mouth for a deep breath, and bites into flesh. Diesel doesn’t budge. “That’s it,” he says. Blood fills the spaces between the boy’s teeth and desperation tastes like sweat and copper. Kill, the crowd shouts, kill him. Kill him.

Straight down. Not his signature, which puts a person their back. The boy hits the mat like a post in the ground and his neck cracks like a norse god popping a knuckle. For a moment the boy’s legs are stiff, sticking straight up, but they crumple. He can’t feel anything but he can see the arena lights. Bright stars, never twinkling, burning him alive. Diesel puts a foot on his chest and Ref does a slow count. It’s over, no need to delay, the boy thinks.

Medics are there before the last bell rings. Ref must have tipped them off. They’re doing something to him, he doesn’t know, just every so often his body and head wobble. Straps and questions, flashlights and a gurney. Up the gangway he doesn’t hear anything. Silence. But he sees everyone on their feet, watching him get carted away. They were acknowleding him.

Noah
May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch


Why can't late subs/no subs not lose?

Noah
May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch


sebmojo posted:


Noah: Up and Coming

This is pretty strong, but I think you could improve it in a couple of simple ways. I don't like the protagonist being 'the boy'. There's a place for anonymous characters, but it doesn't work here. Also - the ending is weak as a newborn kitten. And gently caress, man, that is not where you want a typo.


You're right about the ending, I changed it at the very end, within the post. The typo is inexcusable.

Thanks to Stone of Madness for doing some excellent crit work. That's some dedication.

Noah
May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch


In.

Noah
May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch


Monday Nights

words: 1165

“And that’s the weather coming up later on the supercast, so bundle up Southern California,” the forecaster said.

David sat on one end of a sofa, Nancy sat on the other. She played a free game app on David’s iPad.

“60? Jesus, I did not move here for this,” David said.

“No, you moved here for me,” Nancy said, tilting her head and batting her eyes. David looked at her for a moment.

“You’re not that sunny.”

“Awwhhh,” Nancy said, rolling her eyes. She lifted her right leg slightly, and farted. It made a flapping sound against the sofa, rolling softly along. “Hee!”

David shook his head and smiled. “Gross.” Like a yawn, he felt his stomach start to cramp slightly.

Must have been the bacon cheeseburgers he ran down the street for half an hour before. He hadn’t realized his cloth exercise shorts had been backwards the entire day until he was standing in line, waiting for his pickup order. He fidgeted, continually pulling his cell phone out and checking the time. Frustrated at his tangled pocket, he finally realized his shorts were backwards. Don’t let anyone else see your realization, he thought, just play it cool.

The Bachelor was starting in a few minutes, and the burger man had given him faulty information. Nancy would be waiting patiently, she wouldn’t mind if the burgers were a couple of minutes late, but Brian secretly wanted to get back in time for the start as well. The previews had been particularly enticing.

“Jesus these editors are brilliant,” Brian said. “How they managed to this boring piece of poo poo into that preview.”

“Shhh, it’s not over,” Nancy said. Brian rolled his eyes and started to clean up burger wrappers. He reached for the soda cup to take another sip but found only ice. Nancy smiled at him knowingly. “Hee!”

They sat on the couch, the news absentmindedly in the background, each on their laptops on the couch. Every so often Brian would see a picture of a cat, and show it to Nancy who would aww expectedly. She would in turn show him something she saw, but he had seen weeks earlier already. He laughed anyway.

When Seinfeld ended, it was time for bed. News at 10, Seinfeld at 11. They walked into the bedroom, too small for two people. Nancy had moved in when she was going to be in between leases, and one thing happened after the other, and now it was a year later.

“Remember when we had a huge blowout over me not moving in with you back in April,” Brian said. “And now look at us, heh.”

“I was scared, it was a scary thing,” Nancy replied. “I loved my apartment, and I didn’t want to get stuck in a lease if things didn’t work out.”

“Haha, and then that internship didn’t work out after all, and we had to move in together one way or another,” Brian laughed.

Nancy wrapped her arms around him and put her forehead on his shoulder. “And now you’ll never get rid of me, muwahaha.”

“Not until I—Hey, come on, look at this,” Brian said pointing at the bed. Bundled covers and untucked sheets tangled together on Brian’s side of the bed.

“Look, when you get out of bed, you leave your territory. It’s mine now, and I’ll do with it what I please.”

Brian grumbled and bent over to tuck in the far corner of the bed. Pulling the sheets away, he grabbed the stretchy corner of the bed sheet and pulled up the corner of the mattress. Before he could tuck it completely, he could feel Nancy’s stalking presence behind him. Clenching his butt tight, he flopped over just as she was going in for the kill.

“Agh!” Brian cried, rolling and squirming his way to the other end of the bed.

“Get back here you!”

“Stop trying to tickle my anus!”

Brian ran from the bedroom to the living room, where he could use the sofa as a barrier.

“But it’s so much fun,” Nancy shouted, chasing him with heavy steps. Brian cringed slightly, hoping the neighbors below wouldn’t hear. Nancy hunched and gave me a predatory look, curling her index finger in a mix between come-hither and redrum.

“You get that away from me, or I’ll, or I’ll—“

“You’ll what?” Nancy said.

“I’ll,” Brian paused. He then remembered he was bigger and stronger than Nancy. He straightened up and puffed his chest. “I’ll do something,” he said as he began to walk confidently toward Nancy.

She pursed her lips but then bolted for the bedroom with Brian in pursuit. They wrestled in the bed, Brian trying to overpower her, Nancy trying to worm her fingers to his behind.

“Quit it, quit showing off,” she said, struggling as he used one hand to hold both of her wrists. Brian smirked, using his free hand to tickle her ribs. Nancy fought and kicked, and finally licked Brian sloppily on the hands.

“Eww!” He shouted, recoiling his hand. They reset at each corner of the bed, each panting slightly. Brian made the first move, a dive to try to get one arm between her legs for a reach around butt tickle.

He got caught on a tangle of covers that she was sitting on, and he came up short. Realizing his error he tried to roll over, but it was too late. Nancy pounced, throwing her weight onto his shoulders, and a claw right down the crack of his rear end.

“Yeeeaagggg,” Brian exaggerated, squirming as Nancy dug in. “Noooo!” His body spasmed, trying to buck her off. After the initial shock of the tickle, Brian regained enough strength to lift and topple her to the side, where they lay face to face, panting and laughing.

Brian moved in for a kiss, softly going for the neck and collarbone. Nancy started kissing back, but pulled back.

“I’m sorry, it’s just so late,” she said, looking at her cell phone. “I have to be up in the morning.”

Brian nodded, “I understand, it’s cool.”

“Are you sure?”

“No, I mean it, we should have started earlier, I know. I have to be up early too.”

Brian kissed her again on the lips and they got up to brush their teeth. While Nancy was spitting the last of her toothpaste foam out of her mouth, Brian righted his shorts and grabbed his iPad for some last minute reading.

“Could you turn the light off,” Brian said, from his propped up position in bed. Nancy clicked the light and climbed into bed next to him. She snuggled up next to him and poked at her forehead lightly.

He laughed and used his free hand to massage her forehead and temples, while he read on the tablet. She rolled onto one side, making it easier for him to reach her forehead. Brian scooted closer to her, taking over more than his half of the bed.

Noah
May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch


Jesus you must be a boring person to have a relationship with. I challenge you to a brawl.

Noah
May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch


Still waiting on that Brawl, Echo.

Noah
May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch


In for week 30 and the Brawl.

Noah
May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch


Martello posted:

THUNDERDUEL: Echo Cian vs Noah

Prompt: Write a story that takes place this year, on this planet, with no fantastic or speculative elements, and no explicit genre elements at all. Mundane "lit-fic" is what I'm looking for here.

Include at least one male and one female character.

Wordcunt: 850 words

Deadline: 26 2000EST FEB 2013


Go.

A Gallant Swain

words: 843

Rick sat in the back of his biology class scowling. The aced midterm exam sat on his desk in front of him, and he thought about how many people he helped in his study group, when they hadn’t helped him at all. Birds sang outside on the sunny morning, and he only cursed the fact he was stuck in class. Today was Valentine’s Day, and he was spending it alone, again.

Five rows down and three seats to the right was Becky Winter. B emblazoned on her paper; she was all smiles. Not a word of thanks, Rick thought. But then again, she probably doesn’t even know who I am, just that nerd in her study group. Not the guy who was in her Intro to Biology class, not the guy in her Marine Bio class, not the guy who couldn’t work up the courage to ask her on a proper date.

“Hey, good job Rick,” Sarah Plisky said, leaning over two seats.

“Eh? Huh, yeah I guess,” Rick said.

Becky flicked her blonde hair back over her left shoulder and talked to a guy next to her, some jock, Rick thought. He remembered trying to talk to her on Monday, to ask her once and for all, if she would like to do something that Thursday. He tapped her on the shoulder, and stammered, “Would you, would you like, you know, maybe-“

She raised her eyebrows, and smiled a little. “What’s up, Rick?”

“Would you, I mean, do you-need to study anymore before the exam?”

“Oh, no, I think I’m good for once, thanks Rick, good luck on Tuesday.”

And then she was gone, down the hall with her pony tail swinging with each sway of her hips.

“Study group tonight?” Sarah asked behind him.

“Eh,” Rick said.

And Rick sat in class grousing. She would have said no anyway, he thought. Save myself the embarrassment of being rejected at least. Rick stared off out the window when the door to the auditorium opened.

“Uh, is there a Rick Stanton here?” A man said, holding a flower, a card, and a small red box shaped like a heart. Those in the class who knew Rick turned to the back instinctively, and the rest of the class followed suit. Rick’s face flushed and he sank a little in his chair, but he raised his hand.

The man strode up the auditorium steps two at a time and handed the package to Rick. “Happy Valentine’s bucko, from a Ms. Anonymous. Or maybe Mr.” the man said with a wink. Some people nearby chuckled uncomfortably.
Rick looked around at the turned faces. Wishing he could melt under the intense heat he felt, he shifted in his chair. Then he saw her face. Just half of her milky face, framed by blonde hair and pink lipped smirk. They made eye contact for a brief moment, but Rick saw it. Becky smiled at him.

Rick’s armpits moistened and his stomach flipped. He turned the card over and over in his hands. Inside it read “Do you like me, circle one, yes, no, maybe.” A little childish, Rick thought to himself, but that was just her sense of humor. He imagined her, just like himself, trying to work up the courage to ask him out. They had been one in the same the entire time, how stupid he was for not seeing it before.

Each minute ticked by slower than the last. Rick tapped his foot and wiped his sweaty palms on his jeans. When class finally let out, Rick jumped out of his chair, stumbling on his bag.

“Rick, are you okay?” Sarah asked.

“I’m fine!”

He pushed through the students herding at the small door.

“Becky, hey Becky, I circled yes,” he said. She turned to him and smiled her little smile.

“Hmm, what?”

“Would you be my Valentine,” Rick said, holding the flower up at her.

“Ohhh, umm, I’m sorry Rick, I have a boyfriend,” she said. Everyone stopped to watch the conversation.

“What? But, the card?”

Rick stood there. He could feel every drop of sweat on his body and began to itch all over. Becky’s eyes went wide and she shrugged. She turned, and he could hear her stifle a scoff. Students moved past him, some laughing, some patting him on the shoulders as they did. Everything moved past him in a swirling void, he was stuck in a tunnel, drowning, separated from them.

He couldn’t figure it out, what did he do wrong? Why wouldn’t she want to go out with him, why would she send him that Valentine’s?

And then it made sense. Rick took the card and ripped it in two. Crumpling it in his hand he threw the box, broken flower and scraps of card into the nearest trashcan. It was all one big practical joke, like high school had never ended. She embarrassed me in front of everyone, that was her plan all along, he fumed. Nothing ever changes, he thought, stupid loving Valentine’s Day.

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Noah
May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch


Of Conviction and Man
Words: 1465

The Beginning

By the time Brad Pendle arrived at the beach, a large crowd had gathered.

“Come on people, move it, MAMA coming through, let me see this thing,” he said.

He shouldered his way through the gawkers and yokels, and stopped in his tracks. Mountainous grey flesh towered over Brad. The largest sperm whale Brad had ever seen lay beached in front of him, motionless. Squirming slightly on the skin of the whale were thousands of lice, fighting their open air death.

A faint whine came from the whale.

“Been doing that a few times,” a man next to Brad said.

“Well what are you people waiting for? Help this poor creature,” Brad said. Rushing to the whale, Brad used his baseball cap to knock enough lice away so he could put his hands on the whale hide. No one else moved.

“We have to get this whale back into the water, or it’ll die!”

The crowd stood silent.

“Everything has a right to live, damnit!”

Slowly the crowd moved in, one by one. They braced in the wet sand, shallow waves wetting the cuffs of their pants. More whines came from the front of the whale. Brad patted the thick hide of the beast, “just hang on a little longer.”

Sand gave way, and the whale moved, and with a mighty heave, the dozens of pushers shifted the bulk. Whines grew louder as the body moved.

“Hurry! We’re almost there!” Brad shouted.

The mob redoubled their efforts and the whale moved even further, but suddenly the weight shifted, causing the whale to roll. The mass got away from the crowd, flopping onto its side, where its jaw snapped open.

Crawling out of the mouth, a ghostly pale, naked, emaciated man clambered out. Gray hair, and wild eyes, he made an awful whining sound. Shielding his eyes, even from the overcast sky, he darted around. The crowd pulled back, leaving Brad standing there in shock.

The man’s beard hung down to his distended belly and it swished back and forth as he ran around the front of the whale. Yellowed, long fingernails scratched at the whale’s skin, and the man whined. Brad realized the man was calling to the whale. Trying to talk to it.

He slowly approached the naked, old man. Taking his jacket off, he didn’t want to spook the man any further. He held out his jacket and put it around the shoulders of the wiry man, who sank to his knees, whining furiously and interruptedly. The old man all but collapsed into Brad’s arms, startling Brad by how little he weighed.

“For god’s sake someone call 911,” Brad shouted.

The Middle

“Where did you say you were from again,” a man in rubber coveralls asked Brad.

“MAMA, Marine Animal Maritime Activists,” Brad said.

“MAMA, aren’t you those fellahs that set fire to that fishin-“

“That’s absolutely untrue, an engine malfunction caused that fire, and they attempted to sue us, and I must add unsuccessfully,” Brad snapped.

“Well, not my concern, I’m just glad you’re on our side,” the man said.

“I can’t thank you enough for asking me to be here, Dr. Maynard,” Brad said. “This man has helped our cause immensely.”

“He keeps asking for you, hopefully this will put him at ease.”

On the dock Dr. Maynard and Brad stood, watching porters load up the research vessel with equipment and supplies. Three months had passed since Brad found the man, now dubbed Jonah by the researchers, inside the whale.

“We’ll really be able to prove the sentience of these majestic creatures,” Brad said. “An end to barbarism as we know it.”

“Let’s not get too ahead of ourselves,” Dr. Maynard said.

A white van glided slowly up to the loading zone. Other researchers poured of the van, covered in thick shirts and jackets. Helped gingerly, Jonah emerged from the back of the van, wide eyed and open mouthed.

Laying eyes on Brad, Jonah began making high pitched whining sounds. Jonah rushed over, his hair had been groomed and trimmed, his nails pruned. Still pale, but the sunken face was gone, replaced with healthier, fuller skin. Jonah patted Brad on arms and shoulders excitedly.

“Now Jonah, remember, use your words,” Dr. Maynard said. Jonah looked at Dr. Maynard and nodded his head.

“H-hello, Brad! Brad! Friend!”

“Hello, Jonah!” Brad said.

“Come, Jonah, we have to get you ready for the boat,” a researcher said. Jonah began to protest.

”He’s coming with us,” Dr. Maynard said. “You will see Brad soon.”

“Soon!” Jonah said, smiling once again. The other scientists escorted Jonah to the boat, where they disappeared over the gangway.

“I just can’t believe it,” Brad said, watching them go.

“It’s amazing, isn’t it? We haven’t had much time to teach him to fully grasp English, but he’s made remarkable progress.”

“How did he live in there?” Brad asked.

“From the looks of it, he scavenged whatever the whale ate, raw squid, various plant material and detritus, sea lice. But really, we have no idea. It’s baffling. It should be impossible,” Dr. Maynard said shaking his head. “As far as we can tell, he’s been in that whale since he was a child. He remembers his parents, in vague terms, but they existed at one point.”

“Phenomenal. A bridge between two worlds,” Brad said staring out into the ocean.

“That’s the hope, anyway.”

“Proof that all mammals can feel, experience joy, and suffering. This poor soul will be able to end the suffering of all creatures,” Brad said. “Just remarkable.”

“This is a process, Mr. Pendle. We can’t hinge our dreams on speculation,” Dr. Maynard said.

The End

Jonah stood on the prow of the vessel, staring into the night. High pitched whines came from deep in his throat.

”Are you homesick?” Brad asked.

The bearded man turned to Brad with a puzzled look on his face. Jonah shook his head.

“Right. I mean, did you have friends?”

“Ah,” Jonah said. He pointed to Brad, and pointed back at himself. “Friends. You. I. Before, no friends.”

“No whale friends?”

“No. No. Whale not friend. No whale has friend.”

“But your songs,” Brad said. Brad tried to imitate Jonah’s calls.

Jonah smiled. “It is not thing. Whale understand eat, hurt, danger. No understand friend.” Jonah balled his fist, “No hate. No bad.” He loosened his hand, and touched his arm tenderly, “No love. No good.”

“I don’t understand, what about their families?”

Jonah screwed up his face and sneered. “I had family. I had family! Whale not family.”

He turned back to the empty night and sang to the ocean. Brad watched him, goosebumps rolling down his arms; tingling and sending waves of nervousness across his skin. Pulses came from Brad’s chest, thumping, sending each wave of sensation crashing and rebounding. Jonah sang, a whine with a spike in the middle, and trailing off in the end. Repeating over and over.

“What are you saying?” Brad asked.

“Hurt.”

“Do whales think?” Brad said, pointing to his head.

Jonah turned back to him. Pointing to his head, “I think. You think,” he said, pointing to Brad’s head. “Whale no think. Whale animal. I person. You person. Whale animal.”

“That can’t be,” Brad said. “They have to-“

“Whale no think!” Jonah shouted. “Whale do! No hate. No love. No regret. No heart!” Jonah shouted, pounding himself on the chest. “I person! I hate! I hate!” Spittle formed at the sides of Jonah’s mouth, getting trapped in his beard.

Jonah turned back to the ocean, his shouting turning into sobs. Sobs, shouts and whines mixing into one pitiful bleat. A whale spout came up nearby, causing Jonah to lean over the rail and shout. Only anger now. His hands gripped the rails so he could lean further. Jonah screamed until he was hoarse and the shouts became swallowed by the splashing wake and wind.

Sea spray and tears stung Brad’s face. He drew closer to Jonah, who was still leaning over the edge of the boat. Pulling his hands out of his jacket pockets, he took his hands out of his mittens. His stomach wrenched, twisting like licorice.

Brad didn’t breath, just kept it in his throat. Hands outstretched, he drew closer to Jonah. One slow step, hoping silently Jonah wouldn’t turn. Right behind the Whale-Man, Brad bent at the knees and braced himself.

Throwing his weight against Jonah, Brad grabbed low, around the waist and leg. In one smooth motion, he sent Jonah up and over the rail. It was over an instant. Jonah thrashed in the air like a ragdoll before splashing into the blackness of the ocean. Brad never saw his face, but heard the faintest whine for the briefest moment, before the wake and engine covered up everything.

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