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swaziloo
Aug 29, 2012


In.

Flash Rule: A nautical theme with zero birds.

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swaziloo
Aug 29, 2012


Flash Rule: Must contain the words "Mouth-friend" and "Frigorific."
Extra Rule: Do not use the same word twice.
Word Count: 288 (It took on a meaning and I wasn't willing to pad it just for a number.)
Commentary: Poetry is hard.

I Cannot Say

Shifty persuasive mouth-friend
Selfish bold striped candy cane
Wanton gulping Thorazine
Homemade sub sea jellybean

Sickly hormone rocket rise
Judgment backing terrify
Perversion cunning evident
Blaspheme courted malcontent

Highlight reel regarded box
Gypsy teepee floodlight thoughts
Silver desperate trusting thread
Passive sugar freckle red

Pheromone doorway strangulate
Needless belief captivate
Corded constant transferring
Regarding dammit blasphemy

Soaking disregard hard press
Early stealthy slight suggest
Danger lingual cool direct
Defying thoughtful wrong select

Gimmick satin classic split
Discover mashing cushion trick
Frenzied failure obvious
Cursing freeing never reach

Thumping concerned mockery
Prone compulsive sweeping string
Overdoing confession
Clawing fighting keeping none

Musky bronze indigo eyes
Decided cherry pie surmise
Deep eternal glint headway
Willing fight enduring play

Murder conscience heavy rain
Placate affable one way
Illusion scaffolding deny
Consumption decayed butterfly

Verbal hold anticipate
Instinct intellect explain
Gifted unappreciative
Duration qualify believe

Conquer obstacle despite
Thorny dedicated light
Stubborn envy peer around
Devotion static swinging trowel

Twinkle furnace genuflect
Groping buoyant curling tech
Crustacean symbol integrate
Solid burnish granting weight

Fitting boundary overlap
Dark wire frozen windblown slant
Decisive cold diminishing
Extend persuade long filigree

Crispy darting submerge slick
Costly upright misplaced script
Dogged dangerous display
Distance fogging andalé

Echo bourbon takeout pop
Anti-fugal airborne drug
Mysterious soliloquy
Summit chest belittling

Surprising bolster masticate
Languid oral deafening
Frigorific seas shut it down
Amusing punishments astound

Ten ton onslaught in the wings
Hair trigger golden mecanique
Gerrymander cross-stitched thighs 
Supported flesh thick white zip tie

Collapsing space infinity
Pockmarked distant tragedy
Gasping only shrieking clown
Context rules crushing abound

Mourning fabric disappear
Tenuous skinny prudence beer
Handful sheep proselytize
Deceit construction netting lies

Depth charge invitation true
Milky ordered posse queue
Coaxing flight path genuine
Careless caustic end of line

swaziloo
Aug 29, 2012


This poem has a limited audience, of which I am a member, so, "Yay! A poem for me!"

STONE OF MADNESS posted:

The Ballad of the Challenger
371 words


Three slav'ring heads the creature had
that staggered forth to greet me;
And though I knew it only meant
to judge me, not to eat me,
I felt a wave of panic wash
throughout my timid body –
For though I'd laboured through the night
my poetry was shoddy. [Amen brother.]

[The meter at the start is perfect and I give you kudos for just deleting that unnecessary syllable in the middle of 'slavering.' 'Scowling' might fit better, though I'll leave the call on overstatement to the author. On the down side, these first two rhymes are bound by little words that seem to complete the meter more than they connect the concepts.]

I knew that surge of primal fear,
that heralds one's demise;
And yet I struggled onward,
for to vindicate my lies.
I'm in, I'd said, I'm down for this,
you've lessons, I'm to learn them –
But one glance at my writings,
and I yearned inside to burn them.

["for to" trips me up, but, more of a story point: what lies? Also, "one glance" clashes with "laboured through the night" conceptually. Perhaps this was intentional.]

The creature knew it – this I sensed
from 'neath its wrathful glares;
The eyes of all three heads were turned
to scrutinise my wares.

[gently caress yeah, that right there.]

And now its dread mouths opened,
and let out a slew of scorn,
That did, though just, diminish me
to that which I'd been born –
An infant! Just a suckling babe,
all withered on the teat,
Not capable by half, it seemed,
of standing on its feet;
And all around, the jeering calls
of others in that Dome,
Did flood me with desirousness
to lock myself at home
And curl into a little ball
beside my TV set,
And lose myself in pabulum,
that I might soon forget
Those aspirations that had called me [as-prations works, as-pir-a-tions doesn't]
to the written word,
Instead to lumber on through life
an illiterate turd. [Hard-syllabic read required here - il-lit-ter-ate - feels forced]

[Here you lose my favor. The words more or less work out, but to the detriment of the narrative. I can't help but imagine you grinding away at this, trying to get the minimum word count. The imagery feels half-forced and uninspired.]

Alas, it was too late for this.

My efforts were exposed; [nit: I prefer period to semicolon here.]
that dread Judge laid its tentacle
upon my stinking prose,
And tearing, as an octopus
might shuck a barnacle,
The beast excoriated me:
'A try-hard, and a fool.'

[What's with that line break? It calls away my attention and adds nothing. Otherwise, sound form and substance once more.]

I wept, though no emoticon
could justly represent
The depth of sorrow that I felt –
but lo, the monster went
To criticise the next poster,
whose prose, I knew, was worse!
My terror dissipated like
some ineffectual curse, [I stumble on 'ineffectual', but I'm not certain why.]
And sighing with relief I sank
into my writer's chair;
The Thunderdome Chimaera
was reputed to be fair.

[The emoticon comment is trite, at best. 'poster' stands out in a not-good way. I'd be down with honest, brutal, forthright, opinionated, direct...but, 'fair?' Not so sure. This verse wanes.]

I could relax – I ate and slept,
and went about my life,
But niggling doubts kept at me,
always twisting, like a knife.
Before too long, I'd logged back in,
myself to reassure;
Imagine, then my horror –
'neath my name – the SHAME-ATAR!

[Ends on a downbeat for me. Perhaps that was your intention: just a touch groan-worthy.]
Considering the prompt and your micro-audience, I'd say you've delivered something worthy of acknowledgement (from your micro-audience.) However, where is the non-morbid death in this?

swaziloo
Aug 29, 2012


I'm in. I'm also pretty sure you mean XXIV.

SurreptitiousMuffin posted:

Thunderdome XXVI: Keyboard Kings

[EDIT] Americans: careful with NZDT, that's GMT+13. In other words, EST+18 and PST+21--almost a full day ahead of continental US time zones. If you live here, your story is due in the early hours of Sunday morning. You have been warned. (Wait, was I not supposed to warn them?)

swaziloo fucked around with this message at Jan 16, 2013 around 08:19

swaziloo
Aug 29, 2012


Dog Days (1390 words)

Awkward ego innocent.

Kate first heard the voices on her twelfth birthday. Her mother, Janet, noticed her repeating them under her breath and told Kate to explain herself. She couldn't come up with anything acceptable, so Kate washed the dishes for a month while whispering the words to herself. She found comfort in their sound on her tongue and she wasn't about to let that go. She decided that, next time, she would just tell her mother she heard them in a dream. How could she possibly be angry about words from a dream?

From home to school, Kate walked completely across town. Mr. Hendrick's mansion abutted the street with an everlasting row of white pickets. She would let her fingers fall from board to board as she walked until she came near the driveway. He angered easily, and she didn't want him seeing her touching his fence.

Bloody ugly damaged goods.

Kate slipped at her fourteenth birthday party and hit her head on the cement border of the patio. She woke up, staring into Janet's eyes. Worry contorted her expression, but she couldn't see her mom. She could only hear the new words. Repeating rapidly--echoing into the distance. She was carried to bed and stayed there for nearly a month. The whole town expressed their concern to Janet. Houghton Integrated School made a card. All nineteen of her schoolmates signed it.

She bled for the first time that month. Janet had taken her to Doctor Robson six months before the accident, worried that something was wrong with her daughter. Kate appeared to be developing normally, but it just hadn't come. He performed a fairly unpleasant exam and told Janet that Kate was fine and that she shouldn't worry. He had spoken as though she wasn't even there.

Fallen falling failing fast.

The third time she heard the voice Kate was almost fifteen and daydreaming by the tree. A liquid-hot summer sun bombarded the school yard with radiation. Her only respite had been the shade, but then the silvery words permeated her awareness. She listened carefully, trying as hard as she could to refrain from beginning an endless repetition of the words, as she had done before, without success.

Harness hinges sinking rage.

"Why are you saying these things to me?" She asked nobody. "Harness hinges sinking rage." The voice came from everywhere at once. Kate turned in place trying to find the source. "You don't sound like my voice, so if you're in my head, you don't sound like me." She frowned. "At least, you don't sound like me in any way that I've ever sounded to me." Kate repeated the words with no effect. She repeated them again.

She was bleeding like last time. She stood and leaned against the trunk. "Who are you?" She closed her eyes. Tried to get a sense if there would be a response. She felt hands on her thighs. Felt something sniffing at her in the space beside the one she occupied. Near friends. The source of the voices.

Sizzle strangle violent path.

Kate pulled a yellow flower from a weed that grew between the tall, green grasses in the meadow. She could hear the kids in the school yard screaming and playing nearby, but she knew they couldn't see her lying naked on her clothes. Invisible rope hands were pleasuring her body, bringing her to the edge of climax over and over before letting her float back down.

"It's not very nice, what you do." She twirled the flower in her fingers. Stared at the petals. The bell rang and she heard the kids running inside. Soon all was quiet and she slept.

Drifting psycho cloudy depth.

Kate woke in a sweat. She rose an stood for a moment in her window, before she saw that her hand left a print on the curtain. For a moment she thought that the mark was sweat, but then she saw the blood. She felt it running down her leg, and thought for a moment she had started her period, but as she lowered her gaze, the gash in her side split apart and she fell to the floor.

Thirty six stitches were needed to put her back in order. The scar would wrap around her side for life, and Doctor Robson determined the wound was self-inflicted. Sheriff Jacobs didn't bother with a full report. This time, no consolations were received, and the town spoke in whispers about the sick girl and her ineffective parent.

Bulging bursting boiled spawn.

Kate slept most of the time. Her near friends caressed her and held her with rope hands when she was awake, but the pills numbed the words so that she didn't have to repeat them. She wanted to be good at something other than taking pills. She wanted to walk along the fence, letting her hand slap the boards. She wanted to lie in the field. She wanted to go inside when the bell rang. She wanted to understand where the words came from. She told Janet again, but this time she didn't wash any dishes. Janet said nothing, but a tear rolled down her cheek and more pills arrived the next day.

With heavy eyes Kate stood in the gap between the curtains and waited. The cold breeze chilled her skin. Her hairs stood on end, electric and tense, but she couldn't feel the cold. The snow didn't melt against the glass. Then they came. Hard and firm. They gripped her muscles and yanked at her limbs. She twisted and turned in place. They tore at her body, clawing deeply inside her and wrenching something loose. They grabbed her abdomen and pulled at her gut, pulled at her uterus. They held her hands and shoved something inside her. She didn't pass out, the whole thing passed in a medicated haze.

Bulging bursting boiled spawn.

Janet fainted when Kate told her she was pregnant. She left her mother there on the floor. Doctor Robson hadn't questioned her endlessly about the father. Abortion just wasn't an option. She would have it there, or she would run away. Janet didn't talk to Kate for days, but the whole town already knew. She could see it in their eyes. She could feel it when she shopped at Scotty's Market or borrowed books at the Library. She felt them staring as she walked home. She could hear their whispering behind her back, and she feared for her daughter.

An oppressive late fall sun scorched the earth the day Megan was born. Kate just lay there with little affect as the baby slid from her. Helen, the midwife, did not judge. She came from the next town--fifteen miles down Dixon road. The baby was healthy, and she spent the night with the family making sure that Kate would be able to care for her daughter. Satisfied that Kate's maternal skills were sufficient, she left the following afternoon.

Falling breaking twisted freed.

Megan, like her mother, showed little affect, and Kate withdrew further from the world around her. The Murphy boys would bring visitors down the road to stand across from Janet's house and tell the tale of the wicked family that resided inside. They expertly dramatized the few snippets of information they knew about Kate or her mother, with the climax always being the birth of the demon child on the hottest day of the year. If only they understood the true gravity of the tale they related.

When Megan was two, she pushed Janet down the stairs. Kate didn't witness the event, but Janet's neck broke as she landed. Doctor Robson assured Kate that her mother didn't suffer, and the creepy old house became Kate's property. Her grandmother began paying the bills and the meting out the insurance money.

Crawling creeping chaos death.

Kate lay in the tall grass, the rope hands caressing her flesh and holding her to the earth. She could smell the grains and the dirt. She could hear the children playing in the schoolyard. Their little voices carefree and light. She heard the bell ring and knew that Megan followed her schoolmates inside Houghton Integrated. Then she heard the screaming. She heard the screen door slam. Footsteps running away. The wheezing of a perforated lung. A desperate coughing gurgle. Demon rope hands between her legs.

swaziloo
Aug 29, 2012


Capntastic posted:

Sign Ups Closed, 28 Hours Left

The first rule of Thunderdome: Judges can change poo poo at whim. Midnight can become 8pm.

The second rule of Thunderdome: Waiting until the last minute to decide whether your turd idea can be made a polished-turd idea before the deadline may gently caress you: See Rule #1.

Nevertheless, I may try to make my story less-bad and participate in the goon-rush for good measure.

swaziloo
Aug 29, 2012


Brenda (1542 words)

Brenda first met Neil as her parents helped her load boxes into her dorm room.  Her mother felt obliged to say something mortifying about her "baby girl," and her father only grunted a few sub-audible niceties that left everyone perplexed.  Neil produced words that could have come from a "Greet the Parents" instruction manual, and made brief eye contact with Brenda.  His dark complexion and clear blue eyes left her unable to concentrate for the rest of the move-in.

Two nights later, the parents having retreated to their homes, a cloud of fear dissipating in their wake, Brenda found Neil alone in the lounge. He tapped at his phone and ignored the flickering light of the TV that illuminated the room.

"Hey creeper."  He spoke without taking his eyes off the phone in his hand.

Brenda stood behind the couch.  "So much for the hub of student life."

"It will be." He poked at his phone. "They're either tucked away in their rooms trying to prove their parents wrong, or downtown trying to prove them right."

"And you?"

"I'm keeping an eye on all you through my network of spies."  He held up the phone so she could see the several conversations he managed.  "Brenda, right?  2A?"

Brenda nodded. "So, should I put you in my phone so you can get me out of trouble?"

"Are you planning on getting into trouble, 2A?"

She glanced from side to side.

“Sit.”

She smiled. “I didn't really mean to interrupt...”

"Sit," he ordered. 

She felt herself blush. 

###

Ten minutes later Brenda closed and locked the door to Neil's room behind herself. 

She watched as he plugged in his phone and emptied his pockets.  He had been clear that though he had no roommate, she needed to be quiet as 'the building has ears and eyes you wouldn't believe.' 

She felt dizzy as he approached, and he didn't stop until he pinned her body against the door.  His thigh pressed between her legs and his hand slid up her neck and grasped her hair.   As they kissed, Brenda felt her body pulse involuntarily, and before she realized he'd done it, his hand slid into her panties.  She couldn't hold back.  She ground into his fingers and his muscular thigh and as her eyes rolled back he let go of her hair and held his finger to his lips for an instant.  "Shhh."  He admonished, and pushed his hand over her mouth, holding her hard against the door.

Brenda slumped onto his thigh as she came, the breaths coming hard through her nose.  Only when she could stand did he release her.  She immediately went for his jeans, but he stopped her.

"Sit."  He pointed at his desk chair.

She tried again, and he stopped her a second time.

"Sit."  The second time it was an order. 

Brenda felt delirious.  She sat, trying her best to appear inviting. 

“First, I'm not allowed to gently caress students.  Even that, just now, was totally wrong. Everyone messes around, but it must be on the down low.  Second," and he held up two fingers to emphasize this point, "I'm not looking for a girlfriend or a relationship.  If this goes any further, you need to understand that there will be other women."
She waited to be sure he was done.  "In this state, I'd agree to almost anything.” She sighed. “I don't need a boyfriend."

Neil watched her for what felt like a minute.  "Alright 2A, I'll hold you to that."

She nodded.

"Go on then," he motioned to the door, "Get some sleep."

"You're sending me away?"

"For now.  You have a problem with that?"

Brenda stood and righted her dress.  She leveled her eyes at him one last time, but he merely smiled and motioned to the door. 

###

Her original belief--that her moment of desire had clouded her judgment—quickly gave way to the conviction that Neil was perfect.  Of course he kept his distance, and publicly presented a front that belied awareness of Brenda.  In private, however, it was a different story.

"On your knees."

She watched for a moment from the tops of her eyes.

He swelled slightly at her insolence.  "Now." 

She slowly acquiesced, intoxicated by the tone in his voice.

"I had been thinking that you were proving to be quite a good listener."  He ran his fingers down her shoulders from behind, goosebumps raising in their wake.  "I expect nothing short of perfection."  He leaned over her shoulder.  "Is that clear?"

What followed verified Brenda's conviction that the two were made for one another. Cosmic in origin. Only when the phone rang early the following morning was that illusion shattered.

"Not a word."  He admonished before answering.

"...No.  Melissa, you knew the situation.... Of course I expect you to deal with it....Well that....Well, that....Listen.  That is always your choice."  A long pause followed and Brenda heard nothing.  "You let me know.  Right." 

He hung up his phone.  "You should go."  He didn't look at her as he spoke, nor did it seem that he watched as she climbed from his bed and dressed before sneaking from his room.

###

Brenda began poking deeper into Neil's life.  He had been seeing Melissa and another dorm resident, also named Melissa.  Melissa One seemed to already be on the edge.  She had been with Neil since before he moved into the dorm as an RA, and they had nearly split at the time.  Melissa Two, on the other hand, possessed a similar arrangement to Brenda, and when Brenda considered the notion of Neil holding Melissa against his door, she all but panicked.

An opportunity came two weeks later. She tracked Neil to a popular cafe, and watched as he met Melissa One and sat with her on one of the couches. The conversation obviously wasn't going the way Neil had hoped.  Melissa One was shaking her head and there were tears.  Brenda moved.

"Neil?  Neil!  I didn't know you ever left the dorm!"  She arrived as cheerfully as she could fake and set her fresh cappuccino down on their table.  "Hi, I'm Brenda."  She offered a hand to Melissa One.

Melissa nodded as she halfheartedly squeezed Brenda's hand. 

"Brenda lives in 2A, right, Brenda?"   Neil's voice inflected anger just slightly.  Brenda knew she would be punished for this, and it made her tingle to think of it. 

"That's right.  Rooming with Stacey, but I don't feel like I've seen much of her."  She smiled at Neil.  "Not as much as I've seen Neil, at least."  She winked at Melissa One, who wilted right before her eyes.  "Well, I'll leave you two to it.  See you at the dorm."  She scooped up her cup and made her way to the far side of the room, from where she watched the rest of Neil's connection to Melissa One crumble.

###

Her punishment was far more severe than Brenda ever imagined.  Neil refused to speak with her.  He wouldn't reply to her text messages or acknowledge the note she left apologizing for "any wrong she had done."  By the end of the week, it was clear that he was confiding with Melissa Two, and desperate situations require desperate actions.

###

"Everyone knows what's going on with Neil and Melissa.  They're not, like, discreet, or anything."  Brenda tried to sound concerned but not quite gossipy.  "It's just a little uncomfortable, and my parents said I should come to you first."

Nancy, the residential manager, forced a well-practiced smile that failed to disguise her anger.  "Of course you did the right thing.  I'll check into this, and you can assure your parents we take these matters very seriously."  She sighed.   "I'm really sorry you had to deal with this Brenda."

"Thank you Ms. Robert.  My classes are pretty hard.  I just want to focus on my studies."  Brenda tried her best to put a little tremble in her smile.

###

Brenda knocked again at the apartment door.  "Neil, I know you're in there.  I followed you from school.  Just talk to me, please."

With hesitation the locks turned from inside, and the door opened a crack.  Neil's face appeared.  "Brenda.  You shouldn't be here."

"I miss you Neil!  I don't know what happened. Word is that the trollop turned you in."

"That's not what I heard."  Neil squinted at her.  "Who's talking about me anyway?" 

Brenda shrugged. Tears welled in the corners of her eyes, but as he shifted she glimpsed a pair of legs inside on his couch.  Fancy, patterned stockings with the white reinforced toes were all she could see.

"Brenda, it's messy and I really can't have any students in my life right now."

The tears cut loose and spilled down her cheeks.  "Neil," she nearly whispered, "we were perfect.  I don't care about school."

"It's legal poo poo, Brenda."  He shook his head.  "You have to go."

She sniffed and turned pleading eyes at him.

"Go."  He ordered, and Brenda turned. 

She could feel his eyes trace the seams up the back of her stockings as she navigated the uneven stepping stones in her tall, spiked heels.  She reached up and pulled the lever on the gate, and disappeared behind it with a click.

swaziloo
Aug 29, 2012


budgieinspector posted:

* Each round of judging would be followed by the two least-senior judges (i.e., the ones who have judged the fewest consecutive rounds) posting (short) critiques of each piece.

Are you saying that the TD standard judge allocation formula would be altered? At present, we get 2 of The Original Three or Those Deemed Worthy in addition to last week's victor. It sounds like you're suggesting that a winner would be a judge for two weeks. Perhaps there is something I misunderstand.

I'm a fan of critiques and would be willing to step up if called upon to do so.

swaziloo
Aug 29, 2012


This happened:



You'll note I came up with a better title.

swaziloo
Aug 29, 2012


There's a moral in here somewhere, if I'm not mistaken.

Sitting Here posted:

This was to be no ordinary brawl, and so a special place was set aside for the combatants to test their meddle.

You mean mettle. Also, typically, Earth. Just some helpful critique, so it'll be ready for submission.

swaziloo
Aug 29, 2012


I'm in.

Not so sure about getting my poo poo recorded, but what could possibly go wrong?

swaziloo
Aug 29, 2012


Long live Radio Thunderdome!

Bees (909 words - 5:21 or 6:09)

I submit two recordings of the same story because I can't loving decide.

Read by a female narrator:


Read by SA Stinkmeister from the VO MegaThread (as suggested by neonnoodle):

swaziloo
Aug 29, 2012


In.

STONE OF MADNESS posted:

...It must excite, it must thrill, but it absolutely must not confuse. ...

That, right there, makes this an excellent assignment exercise development opportunity prompt. Thanks!

swaziloo
Aug 29, 2012


Two Thirty Lincoln to Third (839 words)

Cassidy propped her elbows on Eric's door. She felt ridiculous outside in her cheerleader uniform at two-thirty in the morning, but she wasn't going to refuse such a specific request.

"gently caress Jimmy Vu." Eric watched in his rearview mirror as Jimmy revved up his engine for the second time. "He won't shut up for ten seconds about that loving turbo all year."

Cassidy rolled her eyes and stood up straight. Eric's Charger sat motionless in the wrong lane, his bumper aligned with the thick, white stripe. Between taps at the accelerator, the Charger idled with its characteristic, supercharged whine.

Smoke poured from beneath his hood and a sickening squeal emanated from Jimmy's VTEC Turbo. All part of the plan, apparently. As the cloud dissipated, Jimmy rolled to the crosswalk and Eric's window slid shut.

Seven months of incessant auto shop poo poo-talking preceded this moment. "Jimmy v Eric Two Thirty Lincoln to Third" flew from phone to phone all afternoon and into the evening. The crowd that waited at the corner of Third and Main had climbed from their parents windows and slinked through the shadows to arrive downtown without alerting anyone.

Cassidy glanced down the street, confirmed a spotter flashlight shone at each block, and hopped to the middle of the crosswalk: a quarter mile of Main Street was theirs.

Jimmy inched forward and Eric remained motionless. Neither took his eyes off the road before him. Cassidy raised her silver and purple pom-pom above her head, the laser-cut strands glittering in the reflected lights, and both cars screamed to life. Jimmy's VTEC squealed in protest as he stood on both pedals at once. The Charger rocked to one side in anticipation, it's merciless howl ripping at the still night.

With a drop of her hand, Cassidy made it happen.

The Charger leapt off the line with a powerful chirp as Eric shifted in synch with the drop of the glittering ball and punched the accelerator just as the tranny caught. Jimmy snapped his foot from the brake and stood still for a moment as his tires burned into the pavement. The VTEC swerved past Cassidy before the wheels caught.

Eric dropped into second as Jimmy's differential finally got it right. The VTEC launched itself at the Charger and Jimmy shoved it into second gear. Eric had a significant lead.

Eric wound-up second, edging to the top of the power curve as he blasted past First Street. Jimmy held his foot against the floor and tried to drive the transmission, but just as he finally got everything under control, Eric tapped the Charger into third with a race-ending burst of speed.

They came up on the line much faster than either expected, and the planned photo-finish wasn't even necessary. Eric roared past the cheering crowd and checked the rearview just in time to see Jimmy swerve unexpectedly and hit the protruding curb on the far side of Third Stfreet. A wheel broke free and popped into the air. The VTEC crushed a divider and hurtled over the sidewalk, mowing down three parking meters before slamming into the front window of an intimate apparel store.

Eric's brake lights cast the disbelieving faces of the crowd in red. The Charger spun its wheels in reverse. An instant later Eric bolted around his car and dashed to where the crushed VTEC protruded from the storefront. An alarm system chirped inside and he could hear the whine of the turbo over the crunching of broken glass beneath his boots. Jimmy sat inside, slumped and bloody in his harness. Eric grasped the handle and yanked on the door with no effect.

In the distance a siren wailed. The crowd scattered, suddenly cognizant of the multiple levels of wrongdoing in which they had participated. A couple ran towards the wreck, but most simply disappeared.

"No loving air bag?" Eric slammed his fist against the roof of the VTEC. "gently caress you Jimmy!" He ran back to the Charger and popped the trunk. The other two were yanking at Jimmy's door when Eric returned with the tire iron. "loving move!" He bashed in the window with a single hit. He leaned inside, trying to unbuckle the harness but fumbling with the situation.

"I burned out." Jimmy muttered without moving his head. Eric knew something wasn't right.

"gently caress all that. We have to get you out of here." Eric hyperventilated and tried to focus. The sirens that brought the real help grew louder. The other two boys just stared. Something leaked from the VTEC.

"Nah, man. You better bounce." Jimmy caught Eric's eyes without moving his head. "No, man." He made it clear that Eric wouldn't be freeing him from his car.

"gently caress!" Eric glanced down the street. The flashing lights crossed Lincoln. "Hang in there Jimmy." He turned on the other two, "loving go!" and ran back to the Charger. He slammed the trunk on his way around.

Eric could lose the cops if they chased him, but he would never get away from what happened that night.

swaziloo
Aug 29, 2012


sebmojo posted:

And can I get a witness for STONE OF MADNESS' insane dedication to giving detailed crits for two dozen stories. You are the wind beneath my robo-wings.

Amen!

STONE OF MADNESS did more than just critique every story, he built a loving parking lot at the trailhead of the path to action-prose success. If you haven't, go back and read every critique--even if you didn't read the stories. STONE not only shows what didn't work, but why it didn't work. Don't take insight like that for granted.

E: Not to understate CancerCakes and sebmojo, who each put in the time to write individual reviews for every piece as well. Landmark week for those of you who have been clamoring for more critiques. Thanks guys!

swaziloo fucked around with this message at Feb 12, 2013 around 07:33

swaziloo
Aug 29, 2012


In, and I'll be certain to tap the blissful core of my existence informed by the terminal interminable relationship to my beloved.

swaziloo
Aug 29, 2012


Amber Grove (725 words)

Jean lowered the latch of the door to Englewood House, muttering a few Old Words so that the catch made no sound. Most inside were sleeping off a celebratory stupor, the result of Jean's return, but some few kept their senses, and Jean preferred that none heard him depart.

He stepped into the fog and pulled his cloak tight to ward off those spirits that linger until the first rays of dawn. At the end of the road, he opened a gate and let out one of Boris's large, lupine dogs. His visit the prior evening ensured the rest of the pack did not stir at his scent. He squatted and studied the side of the dog's face. "Bo, is it?" With a flick of his notched ear, the dog agreed. "Right. Come then."

The two made their way up the fire break toward the top of Charring Ridge.

The good people of Kellson spoke of the fell woods to the North as though demons immediately consumed anyone reckless enough to venture beyond the summit. Only a hermit who wandered into town each Spring, quickly trading pelts for provisions, had anything to say about the forest, but all anyone could hear from him was gibberish.

Bo trotted ahead of Jean up the familiar path, periodically glancing back to ensure that his temporary master followed. They reached the top of the ridge just as the sun began to warm their backs. Bo automatically turned toward Kellson. "No boy, this way." Jean pushed through the brush and into a cold, foggy mist that obscured the trees. He recited a guidance charm as they walked, and Bo sniffed the unfamiliar air. After a short while, as the sunlight lanced sideways through the fog, they came to a grove where the trees were changed; their bark uniform and unnatural; the ground covered perfectly with tiny green clover and mossy shadows. Bo hugged close to Jean's leg.

"I will admit that you were right." Jean spoke out loud and stepped up to a large tree. He rested his hand on the bark for a moment. "You could see it more clearly than I could." He leaned his back against the trunk and looked to the sky. He added, to himself, "Never really had any doubt."

From above there came an unfamiliar movement, as if a serpent, silent in its motion, uncoiled from the branch and dangled down to the forest floor. "Why do you think she's still here?" The voice that answered whispered with the wind from everywhere at once. Bo let out a low growl.

Jean leaned his head against the tree and closed his eyes. "I needed to know myself first."

The branch now stood before them. The hackles on Bo's back raised. "You may have found your way back to our grove," the wooden figure spoke to him, "but it is not so easy to find your way back into our heart." It took a step forward, and as it did became not what it had appeared, but a form, a woman, with bark for skin. She knelt before Bo and put her hand on his head. She whispered to him in the language of animals.

"You wouldn't have come down if there weren't a way." He opened his eyes and glanced down at the confused dog. "It's okay."

The tree-skinned woman rose and stood before him, taking him in. "You do look none the worse for the wear."

He contemplated her light brown irises. "Please, I should have known better than to leave." He could see her now, her smooth brown skin, her padded clothing made of hides and rough, woven linen. Her dark hair tied and tangled with cloth and bits of woodland treasure. He leveled at her, "Please."

She tilted her head and smiled. "You never lost my favor. I don't suspect she will be quite so easy."

From the bark of the tree behind him another woman emerged as though she stepped from the skin of the tree itself. She leaned around his shoulder and licked her teeth. "I knew you would come back."

Bo returned alone after wandering, as directed, for two days.

swaziloo
Aug 29, 2012


In. Virgo.

swaziloo
Aug 29, 2012


With ten minutes remaining, I must admit defeat. This prompt has broken me. I've written over three thousand words, all of it sheer and utter garbage to which I will not subject you.

I accept the shame of failure and swear to produce a remarkable entry next week.

swaziloo
Aug 29, 2012


Include me in.

swaziloo
Aug 29, 2012


Na'Awlans (1128 words)

Sam squeezed her eyes shut and held up her hands in a bowl shape. Something cool and furry dropped into them.

"Okay, open em." Her big brother Don sat on the ottoman at her level.

In her hands there was a small lump of brown fur attached to a leather strap by a tightly-wrapped brass wire cuff.

"It's a lucky rabbit foot." He looked up at their parents. "Got it from some guy in a bayou hoodoo shop with eyes that went in two directions. He swore it's legit."

Sam held it up by the thin leather cord and studied the dirty tips of the four nails twisted into the end of the fur. "Is it real?"

He nodded. "The real thing kiddo. Straight from New Orleans."

###

Don died the next day.

They called it a "freak accident."

"Bus just pushed his car right off the bridge."

"Knocked-out when he hit the water," they said.

First came the police, followed by the family. Two aunts and three uncles, one cousin, one grandmother, and even her sister Mollie flew back from college. Father Walsh lingered on the periphery for a few days, but after the funeral everyone trickled away. The doctor brought pills. Her mother wouldn't leave the bedroom. Her father stopped coming home after work until very late and very drunk. He smelled awful.

A neighbor's girl, Betty, came every morning and took Sam to fourth grade. She would wait in the carpool line at two-thirty and drive Sam home. After a snack she would leave Sam with TV and homework until seven, when she returned to make dinner and tuck Sam into bed at nine.

Sam rediscovered the rabbit's foot in the small drawer of her nightstand a couple weeks later, and sobbed when she realized it was the last thing from Don. She had Betty tie it around her neck. The salty, dry toes smelled funny, but she didn't care. She squeezed it and made a wish that her dad would come home that night and make mac-n-cheese and take care of her.

That evening, just as Sam had hoped, he arrived early and made dinner. He held her and kissed her and told her he was sorry about everything that happened; that things would be better from then on. He went into the bedroom and roused her mom. They ate mac-n-cheese together and laughed for the first time in weeks.

Sam clutched the foot all the time and felt it begin to soften. At first she thought she was wearing it out, but as the flesh became pliable and the toes flexed once more, she forgot her concern and found comfort in moving the little nails around. She decided to try another wish.

###

Sam stood in the stirrups and leaned over the neck of her mare. "Iz, like this so they can get over the rocks," she called back to her friend Isabel who followed on a young, black horse Sam had raised. Isabel imitated Sam as best she could.

The narrow trail led up the cliff at the head of the valley. In the distance, from where they stopped, the ranch house perched on a short bluff over the river. The girls let the horses graze on the Spring grasses around the enormous oak tree under which they sat.

Sam leaned back on a large, flat boulder and watched the wispy cirrus glide by.

"It's unbelievable that you live here." Isabel turned in place taking in the view for a moment, then sat down by Sam's feet. "I still can't get over how lucky you are."

"My dad works hard, really. He's away a lot with the band--it wasn't all luck." She squeezed the rabbit's foot through her shirt. The toes kneaded her finger in response.

"You know what I mean." Isabel rotated in place and rested her head on Sam's stomach.

"There is something," Sam admitted. She considered her words for a moment. "Iz, what if I told you I could grant one of your wishes? Anything you want. What would you ask for?"

Isabel wrinkled her nose. "Could I wish that we were graduating this year and not next year?" She tilted her head back to see Sam's expression. No. "I feel like I should wish for world peace or that everyone took care of the environment or something."

"You wouldn't know if those wishes came true. Pick something you want. Something you would know if it changed." Sam pressed the foot against her chest. "Everyone wants something, right?"

"I guess I would wish that we could live up here closer to you. That my family could afford it."

Sam squeezed the little toes and made a wish she knew would come true.

###

The humidity hit Sam with a blast as she stepped from the terminal. Her driver waited by the door without a sign, as instructed. He fell in place and offered to take her small bag.

She shook her head. "It's not necessary. You're Geoff?"

"Yes Miss. Got a reg'lar car, jus' like ya asked for."

"Sam is fine. I'll sit up front."

As they drove she told Geoff what little she knew about Don's trip ten years earlier. Her wish that he would know where she needed to go, not surprisingly, came true.

"I know dat place." The driver remarked when she mentioned the hoodoo bayou shop. "Ya wanna go out dere now?"

Sam nodded and squeezed the warm little toes through her shirt.

###

The old man sat beside the antique register, looking just as rusted and dust-covered as everything else in the little ramshackle store. A long, thin-bladed fan spiraled around trailing dustcicles above; the nicknacks on the shelves undisturbed for years.

He studied Sam's lack of interest in the merchandise. "It's a funny thang ta want sumptin, dont'cha say?" His gravely voice resonated off the corrugated walls. "Bettah ta jus' want nuthin."

Sam nodded and untied the cord around her neck. When she produced the rabbit's foot, the old man smiled and held out a large, worn palm. "Thank you," Sam said as she dropped it onto his hand. The little foot twisted once before he slipped it into his pocket.

"Ain't no thang young lady." His lazy eye studied something she couldn't see, but in the other eye stared straight into her soul. "Jus' doin' mah part."

Tears lined her cheeks when Sam stepped from the shop. Geoff waited for her against the car. "C'mon Miss Sam. Let me show ya Na'Awlans."

swaziloo
Aug 29, 2012


In. With bells on.

swaziloo
Aug 29, 2012


Further Orders (988 words)

Augustus stood despite the heavy seas; straps anchoring him in place as the boat pitched over the swells. Through the bridge window he could just make out frothing white tempests where the freighter had gone down. He lowered his hands into the upper range of the pressure control wells on the helm.

Through the cable attached to the base of his skull his consciousness expanded, not only perceiving the systems and monitors of his boat, The Red Sea, but to numerous other nodes far beyond the gray water of the coast.

Pers struggled to reconnect the side-scanning sonar array below. She wedged herself up against a bulkhead and reached between the ribs.

"How many?" Augustus asked as if he stood beside her in the hold.

"Three more." Sweat beaded on her face.

Imam suspended upside-down from a harness over the starboard rail near the bow. He pulled at a roll of expanding patch wrapped around his arm and stuffed it into thin, burnt lines in the hull. The bow dipped and a large wave crashed over him just as Augustus found a good view.

"Red Sea, we have Bellboy in route from Apple Hill. ETA five minutes." Control cut into his stream.

"Roger," Augustus replied. "Pers, how fast are we sinking?" The draft sensor was offline, or he would have known.

She twisted her head and glanced at the plate. "Sump's fallen behind. 'Bout a meter."

"Stay on it Imam." Augustus focused his mind for a moment on the charts and depth finder. "Moving to the lee of a nearby mount. See if I can't calm things down a bit."

Imam didn't reply.

"RedSea, Commander Sumner taking drone seven. Concix available. ETA three minutes."

Augustus responded by lowering his hands further into the pressure wells and engaging the crawler controls. He switched on a yellow indicator for the Commander as his consciousness expanded to include the small robot approaching in the tail of the drone. He opened his third eye. Through the small glass window on the rear hatch he watched the thick, muddy sweep of the bay scroll by. After a diagnostic, he switched the indicator to green.

Pers sloshed through a half-meter of water and shoved another sensor into a bracket. Imam pulled himself up to the rail, moved his tether, and flipped over once more. The peninsula that separated the bay from the sea skimmed by the hatch. Augustus twisted his control jets into drop orientation.

The sea frothed and churned to the southwest.

"Dropping in three...two...one...mark."

Augustus watched the hatch fly open, and felt the spring-loaded mount shove him off the dock. He tumbled once, saw the drone curling northward and The Red Sea powering over a tall swell, then fanned his jets to orient Bellboy nose-down for entry. The crawler didn't transmit the water temperature as sensation, so Augustus only felt the impact when he hit the surface. He twisted into a horizontal position. A quick check showed no change in status across the board.

"Port array complete." Pers stood knee-deep on the boards for a moment taking in their predicament. "Gonna see if I can seal anything at the waterline from inside."

"Roger." Augustus enabled the side-scanning system, rotated Bellboy toward the wreck, and powered forward. The initial scan returned garbage, so he ran a calibration as Bellboy approached the bubbles rising from the freighter. He angled downward and cut the jets, allowing the crawler to sink to the bottom.

The freighter came into view, lying on its starboard side. A steady stream of robots crawled from a hatch and dropped over the hull to the sand below. They turned and marched slowly toward the beach.

As he transmitted this to Control, the side-scan revealed a giant field of two-meter tall objects, arrayed on the silty bottom and approaching the shore.

"Copy both images Red Sea. Your new orders are to water-recover Bellboy and torpedo the wreck." Confirmation codes accompanied the orders on the border of Augustus' vision. "Do not engage hostiles."

Augustus jetted off the bottom and spun toward The Red Sea and the surface. Pers stuffed expanding patch in two long, horizontal gashes in the bow of the tug. Imam hauled himself up on deck.

"Arm the tubes." Augustus watched Imam catch his breath through the window. He waved an arm to acknowledge the request. "Then scoop the crawler."

Bellboy raced through the dark, cold water.

"We're getting ahead of it." Pers called from below.

Imam pulled the cover, twisted a lock, and switched a mechanical lever to arm each of four torpedo tubes on deck. He ran to the back of the boat and lowered a net into the water with a small crane.

Augustus could see Imam from two angles when he popped to the surface. The net dipped and he jetted into it. He powered down as Imam hauled Bellboy from the sea and secured it in a cradle. "Crawler recovered and locked-down." Augustus spoke to Control. He lifted his hands to the shallower register in the well and felt his perception narrow accordingly. He waited for the right moment, then turned toward the freighter. "Hold on," he warned his crew. The Red Sea shook violently, and a wave washed the deck. Augustus released the torpedoes, two at a time into the sea.

"Torpedoes away." He spoke to Control and crew and turned The Red Sea northwest into the swell.

"Roger Red Sea. Return to port for further orders."

Augustus set course and pulled his hands from the pressure wells. He unclipped the straps that held him and pulled the cord from the back of his head. "Here it comes." They braced for the blast wave.

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swaziloo
Aug 29, 2012


Oxxidation posted:

But I guess that, for most of you, five minutes' research just can't fit into a schedule so full of Robert Jordan and desperate, lonely masturbation, so what I got were over a dozen variations of a generic flash-forward, several people who actually gave a poo poo, and several others who ignored the rule entirely.

Didn't even notice there was a flash rule. Who the gently caress is Oxxidation anyhow? Oh, the new guy. A judge? Well, poo poo.

For the record, adding a flash rule typically applies to people who sign up after you add the flash rule. Those of us who signed up before your post, Oxy, may not have noticed that you changed poo poo up.

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