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perpetulance
Mar 24, 2013

THUNDERDOME LOSER

In it to lose it with Close Door Button.

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perpetulance
Mar 24, 2013

THUNDERDOME LOSER

A retread of a loser entry, Close Door Button by dromer.

Original Word Count: 356 Words
New Count: 453 Words

Close Door Button

With the lobby button lit, I began to tap the close door button. The door ratcheted closed slowly, but my headphones drowned out the world. The permit posted on the yellowing wall didn't inspire much confidence. Twice as old as me, years overdue for inspection, it was a miracle each time the deathtrap reached the ground. I jumped a little as a slim hand reached in the nearly closed door, pulling it back open.

The door slid back, revealing a young female wearing the blue work uniform of the local paper mill. I looked away from her face as she caught her breath. Putting away my headphones, I asked her which floor she wanted.

“Three”, she stated.

I pushed the third floor button, and then the close. The door creaked across again. She began angrily, “I can't believe you didn't hold the elevator. Were you in such a hurry that you couldn't wait ten seconds?”

“It's just the fastest way for everyone in the building”, I said.

While she held back her response with a sigh, I eyed her breasts' rise and fall as she regained her composure. The elevator began its slow decent.

I ran my hand through my hair and wet my lips. “Say, haven't I seen you somewhere before? Didn't I see you at the opening of Humprey's Saturday?”

She looked to the floor. “Never heard of it,” she replied.

“Oh, it was amazing. They had-.” The elevator came to a stop with a horrible grinding noise. We stood there, lights blinking, stuck somewhere between floors. My hand reached to toggle the run switch.

“Listen, this happens all the time. Anyway, you wanna hit up a bar Saturday with some of my friends?” I flipped the switch back and forth, willing the elevator to move.

She turned her head toward me, and replied “No, I'm busy. Besides, you're the type of man I try to avoid.” My face must have shown some shock, so she continued. “Just a modern man. Walks by a homeless person dead in the street. You live in your own world. Tell me, when's the last time you did anything for anyone? You wouldn't even hold the elevator for me.”

I scoffed. She must have been one of those preachy types. No blood for vegan whales. She laid into me, but I looked away. Soon, the music was playing in my ears as we waited for the elevator to begin moving again. I could see the fire in her eyes, but I didn't hear a word she said. The elevator moved, the doors opened, and she stamped out. I was more than happy to be free of her.

My hand reached for the close door button.

perpetulance fucked around with this message at Apr 15, 2013 around 01:31

perpetulance
Mar 24, 2013

THUNDERDOME LOSER

In with a pinky promise to work on characterization.

perpetulance
Mar 24, 2013

THUNDERDOME LOSER

I had problems with this prompt. My writing is bad and I should feel bad.

Wordcount: 767
The Invokers

Sun shone through the skylights of the mall. The crowds milled about in the sun's rays, some watching the spectacle taking place. A woman lay covered in blood, her left hand extended up to try to block the ax moving down toward her.

“No, please, don't kill me!”, the woman cried. Her scream was silenced with the thud of the ax striking her neck. The crowd watched the man drop the ax the ground with blank faces.

The lights dimmed on the stage, with the closing curtain separating them from the crowd. The panting assailant helped his victim to her feet. The two exited the stage though concealed doors to the rear section of the mall. The show was complete, although the remnants of their performance remained to be scrubbed up.

“Amazing scream. You really sold that death with the blood coming from your squib,” the ax wielding man said.

“No, really, you do that too well,” she replied. “Frank, the crowd always seems to think you a killer.”

-

It had been a hundred years since they built the machine. Realizing that their own self interest would never allow them to negotiate fairly, the armistice that ended the third world war was written not by man but by their child of silicon. It decreed an end to the nation state. Man began not to live solely by his will, but with dictates from pure reason.

They called it 'The Prayer'.

Frank was an invoker. His vocation was the simulation of violence and mayhem almost indistinguishable from an act with an unwilling victim. After the reformation, true violence almost disappeared. People were assigned to simulate violence upon one another, with the act filling man's innate desire for blood-lust. With an end to scarcity of resources, the need to harm others was almost completely replaced with fiction within a single generation.

-

The subway raced toward the apartment complexes ringing the outer edges of the city. Frank was returning home after completing his day of assaults, robberies, and murders. Cleaned and in his normal attire, he listened to the conversation behind him.

A young man was talking to a classmate next to him. “I can't believe it. I've always wanted to be an administrator, and today I received my assignment from the Prayer. I'm going to be assigned to administrator training at the central office. So lucky. What did it assign you?”

“I got placed in waste management. I know it sounds bad, but the machines that supervise the plant are really interesting to work with, and the workload there is so small I'll get time off to work on my paintings.”

“I can't believe how well it knows people. Can you imagine how hard it must have been before The Prayer?”

The conversation continued, but Frank could only think of his own assignment. At twenty two, he received him assignment of Invoker. He went into it and found a talent for the acting it entailed, not to mention a joy from enacting humanity's base nature for the world, but had never considered the reason for his assignment.

He lay asleep later that night, wracking his brain as to why he would be chosen to act out violence for the public. The Prayer took into account many factors when assigning a person to their vocation, but it always seemed to place people where they would be most suited. So why then did it place him in a position to act out violence?

He fell asleep pondering the question.

-

A white world surrounded him. Frank floated at if sitting in an invisible chair. The metallic table in front of him held up a thin screen and an old keyboard. A flash of static passed over the screen before green text appeared.

'WHAT TROUBLES YOU, CHILD?'

His hands reached out to the keyboard to reply. He typed 'I don't know why I was chosen to be an invoker.

The machine replied, it's text crossing the screen as if it were alive. 'DO YOU NOT ENJOY YOUR WORK? I CHOSE IT FOR YOU BECAUSE I KNEW YOU WOULD ENJOY IT.'

'No, I do. But, why?'

'SOME MEN ARE DRIVEN TO COMMIT CRIMES BY NEED FOR FOOD, OR MONEY, OR THROUGH CIRCUMSTANCE. A FEW ARE DRIVEN TO DO SO FOR THE SAKE OF DOING THEM. WERE YOU NOT AN INVOKER YOU WOULD BE A LOST ONE.'

-

He awoke with a jolt, knowing for certain to be driven by the basest emotions. He imagined what actual blood would feel like on his hands, and fell back to sleep with a smile.

perpetulance
Mar 24, 2013

THUNDERDOME LOSER

In.

perpetulance
Mar 24, 2013

THUNDERDOME LOSER

perpetulance vs. crabrock
Perpetulance: Your theme is "gluttony."

Word Count: 957
A Feast Divine


My servant pulled the metal lid from the final course of the evening. It was to be a surprise, something our chef discovered while tending to our garden after the rains. In the dim candlelight, I could not make out what the object was, but the guest closest let out a throaty gasp. It looked like a pile of worms.

I was served a single one no longer than my hand, and about as wide as my smallest finger. It lay there cold on the plate, as if waiting for me to consume it. I had eaten many strange things before that, of course, but never a cold worm by itself. Still, our lead chef was a master of his arts, and I was inclined to trust his expertise. The knife slid easily through the worm's body, leaving a trail of a green fluid behind it on the plate. The odor hit my face, and I was entranced. I took the soft tip into my mouth. It was divine, transcendental. With every bite, the wetness caressed my tongue, invoking memories of every feast I'd ever eaten. It made them feel inadequate, as if they were the cuisine of a mere child. Without noticing it, I ate the entire worm.

We all looked at each other in shock. A man called out to learn what he had just eaten. Our chef smiled and replied, “Avori”.

I summoned him to my quarters that night after our guests departed and my wife had taken leave to her study. Micheal entered my quarters with a smile on his face, and soon told me his story.

He had been working in the gardens to keep some of the plants from drowning in the rains, when he noticed a peculiar worm dead in a pool of water. He only thought to dispose of it, but when he picked it up, he accidentally squeezed the connecting segments until they burst a fluid on his hands. It smelt unlike anything he had ever encountered before. He tasted it, and then took a bite of the worm, finding ambrosia.

Micheal searched for more of their kind. He followed a tail in the sand back to a depression under a bush. A hive, he told me. He harvested some of the worms to take back for experimentation, soon discovering the preparation he had used for our night's festivities.

He invited me to view the enclosure in our kitchen. The kitchen was a monument to the culinary arts. Micheal and his two assistants perfected the most delightful recipes for my guests, but nothing previously had compared to that night's meal. Next to a wall filled with cooking texts was a cage filled with the little beasts, the Avori, ready for our next party. Micheal reached his hand into the tank to prepare one, grasping it by it's tail. As it dangled in the air, I could swear that its wiggling formed a sine wave. He submerged it under the water until it stopped writhing. He sliced it open, and the green juice flowed our just as it had during our meal.

Apparently the only way to make them truly unique was to drown them.

The party was a success. We were the talk of the town, with everyone raving about our own special delicacy. Another was scheduled the the following week.

-

I awoke the night before the feast feeling a strange compulsion. Slipping out of bed, careful not to wake my wife, I put on my robe and snuck out to the kitchens. I marveled at the ugly creatures my servants had collected in the cage as the meal grew nearer. A few worms moved close together in their writhing, separating from the mass.

Head to tail, head to tail, they seemed to form letters. First W, then they moved until they formed a wide H, then an Y. Why.

The mass, spent, formed back together. I yawned and returned to my bed, certain the event to be random chance. Like clouds in the sky, I must have only been trying to put meaning to a random event. I soon found myself back in bed next to my wife, and then asleep.

Our guests arrived the following day, and I presented them a magnificent feast of drowned Avori. Plates filled with worm corpses left the kitchen only to be returned clean. By the time they were finished they were barely able to breathe, much less walk to their carriages. Once they departed, the countess and I retired to our bedroom. She lay there, face slack, imagining the succulent taste of the worm.

A feeling overcame me as I lay there, imagining their flavor. A draw to be near them, to touch them, to hold them in their tank. I soon found myself in the kitchen, my hand reaching toward the tank, only to spot the mass organized and still. The Avori began to form letters as they had before, at a faster and faster pace. W-H-Y WHY STOP WE FEEL WE ALIVE.

I rubbed my eyes as they continued their sinuous motions. Their bodies contorted in unison with one another, forming letters and sentences on the box grating. WE FEEL THINK STOP.

Blinking, I moved my hands toward them. And then suddenly, I could think of nothing but the intoxicating taste of their flesh and the cold orgasmic sensation as they moved down my throat. I grasped them in my my hands, and submerged them in the water.

My chef assured me we could breed them for sale, if only we could find their queen. I approved his plan for the coming month to produce the Avori. Thinking worms? I must have been out of my mind.

perpetulance
Mar 24, 2013

THUNDERDOME LOSER

Submitting to Galt's Gilded Tales.

perpetulance
Mar 24, 2013

THUNDERDOME LOSER

One in Six
Submitted to the biannual magazine Galt's Gilded Tales
1163 words.

The silver chamber spun rapidly. Two pairs of eyes watched it as if it were the most important thing in the world. It gleamed softly in the dim light, visible only through a haze of cigar smoke. The hand holding it suddenly flicked it back into its home, in perfect alignment with the barrel of the revolver, and placed it dead center on the table.

Taking the cigar from his mouth, he took a sip of scotch from his glass. A cloud of smoke escaped from his pursed lips. “Gentlemen, it's time to begin.”

As Charles reached to cock the hammer, his guards racked shells into their shotguns. They tracked the revolver, protecting their boss. The man to Charles' left shook as he reached out to grab the revolver, covered in a thin sweat. He let it rest on the table, making sure not to point it at his employer.

He pleaded, “Charles, this can't be the only way!”

The only response he received was an intense glare. Charles swirled the glass impatiently.

“I'll do anything to repay you. I can't imagine that the accid-”

“That little error of yours cost me more gold than you can imagine. You already had your chance to walk out, now do it like a man. You won't even feel it.”

Reginald picked up the revolver, and slowly inched the barrel to his right temple. His head jumped in shock to the cool touch of the metal. He uttered a silent prayer, and pulled the trigger. The hammer snapped forward.

A heartbeat later he realized he was still alive. He placed the gun back on the table in front of Charles. The cylinder began to revolve again. One in six. Five empty holes and one chamber filled with a hollow-point bullet guaranteed to convert a man's head into a burst of blood, brains, and bits of skull. A tiny carousel whirling in place, ready to read 'double zero' for one of the men at the table. A one way ticket to hell.

The two men sitting at the table with Charles had crossed him. One lost a fortune him in water, the foundation of his empire. The other had the misfortune of having a beautiful wife. He offered them the choice of being exiled to the desert or playing for their lives. They became his entertainment for the evening.

Charles flicked the cylinder back into place. The guards eyed Tom as he reached for the gun with a blank stare. In one clean motion, he brought it to his head and pulled the trigger. Another empty chamber.

Tom laid the gun to rest on the table, then slid it over to Charles. Reginald resumed shaking, but Tom merely took a drink from his highball. His eyes swept over the table to lock on Charles.

He was their employer, and their master. He owned the local water supply for hundreds of miles. He owned every company operating in town. He owned the local police and arbitration house. While the men assembled in the room might not be his slaves, they all owed him enough gold to be cast out of town at any moment for defaulting on their debts. They lived by his whim.

Charles took another puff of his cigar, blowing it across the table. “Let's make things more interesting,” he said. He reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a second bullet, a twin of the hollow-point already in the pistol. His hands grasped the revolver, opening the chamber and silently sliding the second bullet into place opposite the first. For a moment he laid his right hand, clad in the finest golden rings, on the top of the gun.

“It's a shame. You both are such fine examples of men, but order must be upheld.”

Reginald cried out, “This is a bloodbath! How can you do this to us?”

“You elected to do this, Reginald. You couldn't repay what you lost. Men of this town must know that if they cannot repay their debts they do not deserve to live in this paradise.”

Tom scoffed. “Paradise? What does that make you?”

“Your merciful employer and creditor. We agreed to be ruled by capitalist principles. Perhaps you should have worked more to repay your obligations instead of depending on others to care for you.”

“I don't know a single person in town who doesn't owe you everything. How can we even get the gold to pay off our debts when you only pay in script?”

“Technicalities, my dear Tom. Now Reg, I believe it is your turn.” His hand resting on the cylinder slid quickly to the side, beginning its spin. He pointed the barrel at Reginald, offering him his chance.

“Please boss, I'll work twice as hard. You won't even have to pay me!” He began to have troble speaking, his words coming out in think bursts. “I'll do anything. Please, don't kill me.”

Tears began to well in his eyes as he looked downward, silence filling the room. He began with a whisper. “Someday you'll pay for this. You can't get away with this forever.” He grasped the handle of the gun and brought it to meet his head. Shivering, teardrops ran down his face as he struggled to cock the gun. His finger pressed into the trigger.

A look of euphoria graced his face the moment following the click, a burst of emotion following the brief extension he had received to his lease on life. Chance had graciously granted Reg another few moments to live, just as it had granted wealth to Charles and love to Tom. Now, it would repay them with death at one to three odds.

Tom's face did not betray his inner thoughts. As he watched his master spinning the wheel of fate, his mind flashed to his wife waiting at home. He imagined her crying in their cot, praying for his return from Charles' mansion. If not for her, he would have gladly braved the wastes. But it would be impossible to survive the trek together. He reached for the gun on the table in front of him.

If only for her. He placed the barrel to his temple and squeezed the trigger.

Tom opened his eyes to look at Charles. His frown showed his displeasure with his continued survival. In that moment he knew that even if he made it through the night, he would never make the month. Marie had caught Charles' eye, and he would never let her go.

The guards began to relax after he took his shot. He let the gun rest on the table, as if he were about to push it back to Charles. One in two, a coin flip. For Marie, he thought.

He suddenly snapped the gun at Charles, and pulled the trigger. The chamber rotated slowly, as if frozen in time. The firing pin struck the cylinder.

Empty. Twin shotgun blasts brought an end to his life.

perpetulance
Mar 24, 2013

THUNDERDOME LOSER

On the plus side there's a nice hidden nipple.

perpetulance
Mar 24, 2013

THUNDERDOME LOSER

My ears are nearly bleeding from listening to all the songs again. Going with San Marino so I don't end up blind and deaf.

"Men take more pains to mask than mend."

But I'll probably be back before deadline to choose something more workably crazy. Big fan of Ukraine 2009

perpetulance
Mar 24, 2013

THUNDERDOME LOSER

Eurovision song, San Marino '13. "Men take more pains to mask than mend." Totally not applicable to me rushing this out in two hours

Word count: 816
Graceful Exit

Pastor Martin came to see me today.

He knocked softly on the door. When I got there, I was surprised anyone had stayed, because it took me so long to get up and open it. I remember his green eyes looking down into mine with compassion. “Mary, may I come in?”

I brought him into the living room. I suppose I shouldn't have felt so ashamed to have him see it in such a shape, but I used to keep things so clean. I still can't find the energy to get up and pick up the trash on the floor now.

They missed me at church, he said. We sat and talked for some time about everyone in the congregation. They prayed for me to get well during the sermon Sunday. I'm thankful for that.

I told him I just felt a little under the weather, and he smiled back politely. He wished me well, and said he'd see me next Sunday.

The pain hardly goes away any more. Another appointment Thursday for another round of chemo.

It was warm today. I wish I could have made it out to the park down the street. Not many more of these days coming in autumn. The kids across the road were outside in the sun, playing and laughing when Martin left. I shut the curtain and lay in the bed until the pills kicked in.

Another day passed. Another day closer to heaven.

-

I'm glad the doctor suggested I start a journal. It helps to keep me focused on each day.

Breakfast today was a piece of toast. I kept it down for ten minutes. Managed to eat a slice a lunch with that little green pill to settle my stomach. Too bad it's not covered by my insurance.

I cleaned up a little in case any more visitors show up to wish me well. Took all of the empty pill bottles off the coffee table, and picked up the trash on the floor. Maybe next time I get a visitor I won't find myself blushing.

At least the pills stay down. Thirty six pills each day now. A handful in the morning and two handfuls at night. The long white ones are hard to swallow. I don't even know why I have to take calcium anymore. The doctor said I have three months to live, and I'm pretty sure stomach cancer kills faster than osteoporosis. Maybe I'll stop taking those pills.

I'm lucky that my pain pills are so small. Easy to swallow, and when they start working I can actually move around without my bones feeling on fire.

It's a lot colder today than it was yesterday. Soon the apple tree in the back yard is going to shed all of its leaves.

Chemo tomorrow.

-
I knew it would burn. It burned before, but every time it seems it gets worse. The doctor said its because the cancer is in my bones now. I had to sit in that little back room in that white office with that line plugged into my arm, dripping fire.

I wasn't alone. I saw the lady who only ever wears a red headscarf, and two people I haven't seen before connected to the dialysis machines. We all suffered together.

I'm home now. It's much better here than the hospice William went to. I remember holding his hand as he went to sleep, so many years ago. I won't have anyone here to hold my hand, but I will be in my home.

-

Martin came by after church was over. I called him last night and told him I wouldn't make it because I caught the flu, so he came by to check on me in bed. I couldn't make it to open the door for him today, so he let himself in with the key in the porch light.

He really is a nice man. Never once did he seem to be bothered by my coughing.

I asked him what happens to the people in Washington who take their own lives. Is it a sin to end your own life? Do they go to heaven? He told me that God put us all on the Earth for a reason, and that to leave early was a sin. Thou shall not kill, he told me. We all have a purpose.

He left some soup he made for me, wishing me to get better.

I sat by the back window, covered with a quilt, and watched the leaves fall off the apple tree. Gold and brown, they fluttered slowly in the wind. The air turned red, then purple, and then finally lost all color.

-

To every season comes an end. Two pills stop the pain for an hour, forty forever. I'll finally see William again soon.

I've finished praying. When I meet God, I'll ask his forgiveness.

perpetulance
Mar 24, 2013

THUNDERDOME LOSER

I to the N that's IN

perpetulance
Mar 24, 2013

THUNDERDOME LOSER

Gotta thank all you guys for the crits. Absurdly helpful.

perpetulance
Mar 24, 2013

THUNDERDOME LOSER

I be scrubbing out this week. Insert excuse here.

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perpetulance
Mar 24, 2013

THUNDERDOME LOSER

In.
Scrambler, 4-6
Write a to-do list for a powerful spider monkey who races go-karts.

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