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God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards
Okay to enter just for the hell of it, even if we've never posted in CC?

If so, I'm in, and I'll take:

- big game hunting: chickens
- very important icebreaker ship


God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards
(big game hunting/chickens; icebreaker ship)

Enemies (1195 words)

Their first home is deep enough in the country that there aren't any streetlights. The only illumination comes from the dull halogen over the neighbor's chicken coop. Charlie and Amelia, on their bellies in front of the attic window, stare down at it.

"How are you going to know which one is the loud one?" Amelia asks.

"Maybe I'm just going to kill all of them. Ever think of that?" They lie hip to hip in their improvised sniper nest, sweating. Amelia is in her pajamas. Wood dust adheres to her skin. Every time Charlie twitches the rifle, she flinches.

"Trigger discipline, babe," she says, apropos of nothing.

"I know. Christ." She feels him shift against her. "I'm gonna take a potshot at it, see if I can wake them up."

"Won't that wake up Beau?" Beau is the chickens' owner, a decrepit don't-tread-on-me Paulite. He's been known to answer the door with a shotgun.

"He can hardly hear, dumbass." Charlie pushes forward the rifle bolt. "Besides," he adds, "it has a suppressor."

Before Charlie left for port last year, they'd joked about the hen. The golden bird would stroll the yard, stopping at odd intervals to let off a yowling alarm call. But they were willing to ignore it, high on the possession of their own home: even the off-camber tilt of the driveway, even the poison ivy in the backyard.

"You'd make that noise, too, if you had to squeeze an egg out of your whatever," Amelia said.

"Wherever the eggs come from, I'm sure I don't have one," Charlie answered, laughing.


Every year, Charlie would work the winter cruise-ship circuit while Amelia lived an old woman's life. A quiet part-time job, a bimonthly book club, the occasional visit with old friends. In the springtime he'd return to Port Emmawak grinning and unchanged, and she'd pick him up with a takeout bag from Willy Burger waiting in the passenger seat. Amelia had always known exactly what she was getting into. She was, as always, in love.

In ordinary winters, the phone calls would arrive by satellite from New Zealand, Madagascar, the Falklands, Argentina. Amelia, by February, would measure out her life in bedtimes and grocery trips, phone calls and loads of laundry.

The most recent winter, though, marked the first time she could gorge herself on news. She could see Charlie behind the stories, shivering on the deck in his waterproof outerwear: "Stranded and sinking, Antarctic cruise ship begs help from Russia." "'Secret Life of Penguins' filming delayed by cruise disaster."

Pack ice had first surrounded the ship, she read, then squeezed it in an embrace that crushed the hull. Freezing water had trickled in through the rents. They were trying to tilt the ship enough that they could dry out the cracks and weld on a patch. The BBC crew filming the penguins was considering evacuation. It took three weeks and two icebreaker ships before they could limp, a week earlier than usual, back home.

"It was just frustrating," Charlie said from the passenger seat of the SUV. "I'd go out there every morning and we'd be sitting just a little lower in the water. Everyone was either on edge or walking around all fake-cheerful, 'oh don't worry, they'll come get us any minute now. Chin up.'"

"So what did you do?" she asked. He hadn't touched his burger and fries. "While you were there, I mean. To pass the time."

Stand on the deck and wait, he said. He waited for the Russian icebreaker, and he waited for his next shift manning the pumps, and he waited for the ship to sink. Passengers would tap his shoulder and ask how long it would take. I'm just a janitor, he'd tell them. There's nothing I can do for anyone. Three weeks of black water, grey sky, and white ice. When your car breaks down, you get out and walk. When your jet runs out of fuel, you pray. But when your ship founders in the terra incognita, you just wait.

He was foul-mouthed before, sure, but his sardonicism was always tempered with sweetness. After that winter, though, he began picking fights: a woman let her shopping cart careen into the SUV, got her groceries scattered into the parking lot for her troubles. A man touched Charlie's leg with the bumper of his Cadillac. Charlie sucker punched him through its open window. Amelia argued with the police officer. He's had a hard time. Everyone expected him to just let the world gently caress with him and not do anything, he said. He was glad she understood.

Then one Sunday in August, she returned from the grocery store to find him in frustrated tears, covering his ears with his hands.

"What's wrong, babe?" she asked.

"That sound. Listen."

The silent room was suddenly pierced by the hen's alarm call, as familiar to Amelia as a childhood cuckoo clock. "gently caress!" Charlie shouted. "If that thing would just shut up for once, I'd feel," he pounded both palms on his thighs, "so much better."

"Is it really the chickens that're bothering you that much?"

He paused, considering this. Sighed. "Yeah, it's the chickens, kid. They're driving me nuts."


Charlie's first shot from the attic impacts the grass with a muffled bang, sending up a clod of dirt. "Jesus," says Amelia, scooting back from the window. They wait, but nobody stirs except the chickens, whose soft confused gabbling drifts up to the attic. The golden hen is now clearly visible, strutting in panicked circles just outside the coop.

Charlie fires another round. Amelia feels the soft percussion of the rifle thud in her chest. The offending chicken is thrown backwards. Feathers and bits of flesh spatter the ground. The rest are in a blind, idiot panic.

"That thing must be for hunting elephants. gently caress," she says.

"Deer, I think." They lie there quietly together, looking down at the defeated coop, hoping Beau is sleeping soundly.

Suddenly, Amelia feels like giggling. There's a bizarre joy in this method of solving problems. If I have to choose, she thinks, I would rather help you fight your enemies than be one of them. Always. "How does it feel, knowing it'll never squawk again?" she asks. "Wanna shoot another one?"

"You know, babe, it's funny," Charlie replies. He heaves himself to his knees and starts extracting spent rounds from the gun. "It's just a chicken, you know? To tell you the truth I feel kind of bad, all of a sudden."

"It has been bugging you for months, you said."

"Yeah." She hears him fumbling with the rifle's unfamiliar mechanism. "I could've just let it go right on bugging me, come to think of it." He sighs. "Can't fix everything that's wrong with the world. I mean, what am I going to do the next time somebody cuts in front of me at Starbucks, shoot them, too?"

Charlie offers Amelia his hand. "No more big game hunting for now," he says, grinning, as she pulls herself up from the attic floor.

"Hey, do you think you're going to go back to work this winter?" she asks.

"We'll have to see what happens."

God Over Djinn fucked around with this message at 07:51 on Nov 25, 2013

God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards

flash rule: Your protagonist is over the age of 70.

God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards
missing journal of great personal value

Memory Problems 911 words

"Hannah, your mother's had a stroke. She's in the hospital," her father said.

"Good," said Hannah.

With a tap, she hung up the phone.

She sat naked in the dark. The last time she had hung up on her father was so long ago, she could remember slamming the landline handset into the cradle. Somehow, that had been far more satisfying. She sighed and fumbled for her bathrobe.

"Was that Frank?" her husband mumbled from his pillow. "Why's he calling you?"

"Go back to sleep," she said. "I'll deal with it."

Out on the balcony, she dialed her father's number. "Dad, I'm sorry. You woke me up, I was in a bad mood - "

"Can it, Hannah."

"Okay. Okay. What do you need me to do?"

"Well, it sounds like she's out of the woods, but she had some brain damage. She's going to be there for a while, doing rehab. They need somebody to get her insurance information, her medical records and all that." He paused. Hannah patted down her pockets, fruitlessly, for cigarettes. "The papers have to be in that house somewhere."

The way he said that house assured Hannah that he remembered it no more fondly than she did.


Eight years of deleting the house from memory, but her feet still knew to skip the rotted porch step.

Hannah stood in the ruined living room in her husband's rubber boots. The ammonia reek of rabbit piss was unchanged. Time to play hide and seek, she thought grimly.

It took her an hour to find the fireproof safe, buried in a heap of flattened liquor boxes. A fishtank, four fingers deep with mossy water, teetered on top of the pile. Her mother's insurance documents were tucked inside, under a paperclipped packet of Kool-aid points. And so was the journal.

It was a waterbloated brick of a book, with the ragged look of a family pet that should have died years ago. Hannah recognized it, although she hadn't known it was a journal, back then: her mother perched on the kitchen counter with a double Jack and Coke, resurrecting the book with her hair dryer after dropping it in the bathtub. "What are you doing?" Hannah had asked.

"Why, so you can judge me for it? Brat."

It's easy to be close to someone when they don't know that you're there. Memories can't swat you away.

She sat down on the sagging couch and began to read.


Her mother had recorded their life in dark domestic vignettes.

The kid finally left for college today. As for me, I'm sitting here rear end naked and tipsy at 11:00 AM. Sweet freedom!

Hannah laughed. She flipped back, scanning for further mentions of herself.

Crying today. The kid told me she wished I was dead.

What was I supposed to do? You told me you wished I had never been born.

The police brought her home today. She snuck out again. I don't know what to do. She said she didn't care if she got raped. I wish I hadn't said it, but I said fine, I don't care either.

The entries recorded the wounds and indignities that underpin a life. The damage done by proximity to others.

Hannah's teacher called today. She's been telling people I abuse her.

Hannah cringed in shame.

My mother keeps calling just to tell me I drink too much.

She had done her share of unwitting damage, in the combats of her childhood.

Frank called me today. Inviting me to his wedding, of all things. I told him to get hosed. He called me a failure.

She had never realized that it was possible to damage grown-ups.

Memory loss, Hannah thought, closing the book. My mother is awfully lucky, that she kept a diary. She'll be able to read it and know just how terrible we all were. Then in thirty years, we'll broker a peace - we'll get together at Christmas and joke about the past. Champagne, fruit cake, and "Oh, I hardly remember what we used to fight about, back then."

But then again, she thought, I could always be merciful. Tear it up, and we'll never forgive each other. But there'll be nothing to forgive. Less pain for everyone, that way, she decided.

She stood in her mother's cramped bathroom, flushing pages. Two hours later she tossed the flapping covers and battered spine into a grocery-store dumpster, very far from home.


Her mother grinned at her lopsidedly. "Hannah!" she exclaimed. "That's my daughter!"

"Oh, honey, she comes here every weekend," said her nurse, opening the blinds. "You've got a good daughter, you know." With a glance at Hannah, the nurse shuffled out.

"I had a stroke, Hannah," her mother said. Even with the lisp and the tremor, the lap blanket and the prescription socks, she looked younger now, and fragile.

"I know, ma, you told me last time."

"Oh, I'm sorry. I forget things. Because of my stroke."

"Here. I got you something."

"What's that?" Her mother squinted at the leatherbound book.

Hannah handed it over. "It's a journal, ma. You can write in it. I thought it might help you, you know, with your rehab."

"Ah!" she exclaimed. "Of course it is. Silly me." She fanned the creamy pages. "I think I like keeping a journal. Did I have one before? I remember writing, but I can't quite - "

"If you did," Hannah said, "you never told me about it."

God Over Djinn fucked around with this message at 02:21 on Nov 30, 2013

God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards
I've walked and I've crawled on six crooked highways

God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards
right under the loving wire. I literally made someone drive me back from my own wedding weekend early so I could run up the stairs to my apartment at 3:57 and submit this, Thunderdome don't ever say I don't show you that I love you.

prompt: I've walked and I've crawled on six crooked highways

When the Highway Came Through Little Oak Park 1,997 words

My old car got hot cos Omar rolled down the window and punched some crazy white girl on a bicycle. That's why I bought the Corvette, which, my baby sister Jenny, she sittin in my apartment telling me it cost the same as we make off eighty-four ounces of smack. She got it all written down, like "street cost per gram", and yeah, I ask her why she doing this poo poo instead of her homework, but she just roll her eyes at me. I tell her she better burn that paper, we don't need nothing with "wholesale cost per ounce" sitting around my place.

So she get this nasty look on her face and she like Well hey, at least we ain't gonna get stuck behind no crazy white girls on bicycles no more. You remember that, Sean? When Omar punched that girl? She smiling at me with half her mouth.

Shut your mouth, I say. I am mad that car got hot. Even though the Corvette, it's pretty good too.

But Jenny says, Nah, be cool. What I heard, is the highway coming right through here. I was just on the corner talking to Lalo, and they gonna buy his store. He say he gonna retire and get outta this place. They gonna buy all them houses on School Street, and tear them down, build up a highway right through from I-58 to the north side.

Man, I say, that's okay, ain't gonna take us no hour to get home.

So I get this idea one day I'm gonna take a walk and see where this highway going. They bought Lalo's store and even my Auntie Bianca and Uncle Elijah's house, and they gave them a grip for that poo poo. So me and Marco walk over. They got this no-man's land like some Saving Private Ryan poo poo. You gotta walk up this hill, and on top there's all these old people in puffy coats going toe to toe with some bulldozers.

They all got signs that say "Don't divide our cities" and "Road rage" and "Trees not concrete". This one old lady, she sitting right down in the dirt, right in front of this big steamroller. The driver ain't going nowhere, though. That's what Marco says: They ain't going nowhere, let's go talk to them.

Marco says Can I ask what you're doing, ma'am?. Marco, he's this smart motherfucker, he do all my bookkeeping. He's good at talking to old people. This old lady, she got these crazy pale blue eyes and a Sherlock Holmes hat and she says, you kids from Little Oak? And Marco says Yeah, we from the Park.

She says Son, if they build this highway, we're all going to regret it. It's gonna be a big noisy mess right in the middle of our neighborhood, and it'll split Little Oak Park in two.

She don't care if she gets to drive fast, she just wanna walk to the grocery store. Marco shaking his head. I feel that same way too, drat if I don't want to drive that Corvette in the fast lane all the way to my front door. She gives us these flyers and tells us we better call the mayor's office. I actually bust out laughing at that one, but at least I wait til we back down that hill and halfway home. Me, calling the mayor's office. Yeah.

A few days later, me and Marco sitting in this girl's apartment where we been working out of. Her and her baby, they gone off to live somewhere else, and there's five or ten guys sitting here all day, making dime bags, taking phone calls, smoking.

Look at this, Marco says, and he's pointing at this long list of numbers all red and green.

Stop loving around and just say what you gonna say, Marco.

Well, we losing people, he says. They bothering people on bikes who try to go across that construction, don't nobody want to go over to West Oak anymore. All them side streets closed off for twenty blocks. And even less than nobody want to come all the way over here just to get they poo poo taken. I look at this fourteen-year-old kid sittin next to me.
They bothering people? I say.

They ain't bothering me, he say.

Don't smoke in here. I take the cigarette out of his hand. He don't say nothing more after that.

Look here, says Marco. We losing forty percent of our profits. All because of that dumb-rear end construction. What you expect people to do, drive they cars across the highway?
Well, I say. Wanna go talk to those old people? See if they about to figure something out? Maybe go scare some motherfuckers outta they bulldozers?

So I get Marco and Omar and Jenny and pull like fifteen other people right outta they work, cos I can do that, these days. We march up that little hill and right into the same scene as before, except they laid a little bit more asphalt now. Buncha squinty-face fat guys in bulldozers and this crowd of old people waving signs and singing. There's more of them now, too. And Marco gets this big smile on his face and he walks right up to that same old lady with the blue eyes and he says, We here to help you out.

Thanks, she says, we really appreciate your help. She lookin at us like she seen a ghost but she ain't scared of it. What're you boys' names? Do all y'all live here? Her sign says "Don't split up our communities" with a picture of a highway going right through the middle. We don't want this community split up, I say.

Well then, start making yourself some signs. I'll introduce you to everyone.

Jenny jumps right on them markers and poster paper and makes herself a sign with all these pictures of cars on fire and exploding, and flowers growing on top of them. Don't hurt our hood, the sign says. Marco's says Support Your Local Businesses. Local businesses, you know? Huh? he says, grinning. Marco, you such a fag, says Omar.

So us and the construction workers sit there and talk poo poo at each other. And funny enough, it's a real good time. People start gettin off work and they bring they kids and they grandmas and grandpas up to the highway. People textin me We gotta go forty minutes out of our way to get around this highway, the pigs hassling everybody, I just tell them hold up, we having ourselves a little protest. Walk yo rear end up to School and North and bring some food with you. Soon enough we having a regular block party right out here on the highway. Even the construction workers gettin into it, once we give them some corn on the cob.

This must be going on about two, three days. I ain't makin no money but if I listen to Marco, I wasn't before either.

Then one of the foremen like, you wanna get out of here tonight. They gonna be arresting people early in the morning, you obstructing our progress here. So one of them old men comes to me and tells me, get yo people together. He got squinty eyes and he wearing this sweater with a cat face on it. Man, I like your sweater, I say. Me and Omar been goin off to smoke in the bushes and I'm pretty high again by now. But this guy, he take control.

Some people light a little fire, and we got lawn chairs and stuff. The construction workers, they all confused. Y'all gonna get arrested in the morning, they sayin. We paved all we could back there, they sayin, we gotta keep movin north. But as soon as it's full dark, me and Omar, we get everybody together and we tell them, We gonna move these bulldozers right off the highway.

Marco says that a bulldozer weighs like twenty tons. We gonna need a lot of people, he says. Or these, that old lady with the blue eyes says, and she hold out her hand with the foreman's keys in it. She don't keep it for herself neither, she actually gives it to Marco. That old white lady, she okay. Marco, his face light up like it's Christmas.

So three in the morning, when everything all quiet, Marco finally gets himself a bulldozer. He pulls his shoelaces right out his shoes and he tyin down the gas pedal. And then he turn that key and start it up and it just goes right through the fence, right down that hill, and that's where it falls over, but it keeps sliding and groaning until it lands right where Lalo's shop used to be at, and even the treads still be spinning. The kids be cheering and hollering, Jenny be jumpin up and down clapping her hands. I even get myself a bulldozer too, and man, it feels pretty good. We make them a big old mess, even though we probably only there for ten minutes. But then we hear sirens and we all running back home, fast as hell. Me and Marco don't stop until we get back to my apartment.

So that didn't kill the highway, but it did show up on the news the next morning, with a headline sayin that they be lookin for us. Of course they lookin for us, too, not them old folks. But then that gave Marco some time. He ain't stupid enough to be working for no drug dealer when a bunch of construction workers all tellin the police bout his face. So instead, he lays low and does some research. And crazy thing, he find out that them contractors working on the highway, they all workin for this one guy. And I ain't gonna name names, but this guy, he comin down to the Park every week and buyin coke. We even got pictures of him gettin high at my boy's house.

So Marco makes himself an email account and sends out some tips. Me, I'm just hoping that that contractor didn't keep no records of who his dealer was, but it don't hurt me none, really, since his dealer better not have my own name written down nowhere. Assholes get they own in the end. And funny enough, that's the last straw. Marco just send out a couple of messages and all of a sudden, two days later, we seein on the news that the highway is going down once and for all. They even got that picture of the guy snorting coke, even though Marco swear up and down they didn't get it from him. Between that and the bulldozers, and this line in the news that talks about "popular opposition" but really means "some dumb motherfuckers sat on the highway until they asses got sore" - that highway ain't goin no further. I bet them old white folks celebratin'.

So in the end they built a park there, right where the construction ended. The rest of it, they turned into a road. Ain't no highway, but I can drive the Corvette on it fast enough. Funny thing, they call this place Little Oak Park but ain't never been no park around here before. But now there's a park you can walk right through without nobody bothering you. That's where I'm sittin' right now, watchin old men play chess and fat old ladies sit in they lawn chairs and kids ride by on they bicycles. Thinkin, maybe I ought to get myself a bicycle, get a little exercise. Go over to West Oak once in a while and check out how things goin over there. My business pretty much runnin itself these days, after all. I got Marco and Jenny to help me out, they good kids. Things lookin pretty good around here.

God Over Djinn fucked around with this message at 01:03 on Dec 9, 2013

God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards
homework for Bad Seafood I always did my homework early.

Written while drunk post-wedding, barely edited, I'm sorry.

Customer Loyalty 498 words

Bells ringing and lights singing and the reflection of the jackpot sign - WE HAVE A WINNER! reflected off a thousand mirrors, the carpet so polyester-heavy it shines in the glitter of slot-machine neons, the jingling of coins plinking from the hopper magnified a billionfold as speakers squeak into action and the song of victory begins: a triumphant march tune, tinking percussion replaced by the sound of money shaking in a loosened fist. At last! sings my heart, at last, I will never be alone again.

I imagine swooning in the clutch and grab of a second heart attack, fluttering to the floor. I always fancied myself an ingenue, and now I sit, poised as a witless fortunate, on my slot-machine throne. Small-time gamblers dance and point at the jackpot sign, and Gary is running - I want to laugh, this is a man who doesn't run often, but now he's running for me - he's running, stumbling towards me across the maroon expanse of carpet.

"Miss Fox," says Gary, "I can't believe it!" He's grinning from ear to ear. Gary works for the Royale, sure, but he always says he'd take care of me even if I took my money somewhere else. I believe him, too. He once picked me up after a delayed flight brought me to Las Vegas at three in the morning, and he even stopped on the way to my suite for Virginia Slims, a muffin, and a local newspaper.

"Oh, Gary, love," I say, throwing my arm around his neck and planting a lipsticky kiss on his cheek, "I owe it all to you." I never had children, and my parents only had the one - and bless them, but they're long gone. Gary started out as just a casino employee, but he's become my closest confidante. Funny, isn't it, how you find the dearest of friends in the strangest of places?

"So, what are you going to do with the money?" he asks. "If you told me we wouldn't be seeing you around here anymore, Miss Fox, I'd just about cry." I look deeply into his eyes. I love this tragic stoicism that men have sometimes, when they run the risk of being hurt. I imagine that Gary once thought of me like any other client. I'm no fool - I know he makes his money on others like me. But I'm his dear Miss Fox, his sweet old friend who charms all the waiters and tips as much as I can afford.

"Oh, Gary," I say, "I'm an old lady, you know."

"Oh, Miss Fox-" he protests. But I persist in my brutal honesty. It's good to be honest, sometimes, with men. "You know I'll always come back to the Royale, jackpot or nothing. I just don't have as much fun anywhere else. After all, Gary, you always show me the best time."

"You really mean that, Miss Fox?" he says.

"I mean it from the bottom of my heart."

God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards
i wrote two thousand words in AAVE, so now you guys get a taste of the pain


Lots of prompts lately have involved some weird plot-related shizzlewizzle. But this prompt is about form more than function.

Your narrator and/or protagonist*, either:

- speaks a non-standard dialect of English (interpret 'non-standard' however you prefer); or
- is a non-native speaker of English (and interference from their native language is clearly reflected in their speech).

Their dialect/language background cannot be the same as your own. (That's cheating!)

The use of language, and your narrator/character's language background in particular, must be relevant to the plot. How you choose to interpret this requirement is up to you.

Here is a non-exhaustive buttload of English dialects: When you sign up, indicate what dialect or language background you're working with.

Creativity and ambition will be rewarded. You don't need to be a linguist to get through this, but do at least a little research. Also if one of you motherfuckers writes in Singlish I'll love you forever.

Genre: any.

Word count: 1000, maximum.

Deadline: 10:00 PM Sunday, December 15, Pacific standard time. Signups close at 10:00 PM Friday, December 13.

Judges: Me, Erogenous Beef, and crabrock

Bold Combatants:

Tyrannosaurus - Hawaiian pidgin
Radioactive Bears - Singlish (my family used to live in Singapore I can't wait)
Bitchtits McGee - Geordie
Mercedes - AAVE
Nubile Hillock - Canuckian Backwoods Hickese
Obliterati - Victorian aristocratic English
foutre - like, valleyspeak?
Helsing - Scottish English

Wimpy Babbys:

The Leper Colon V who may or may not be writing something about sign language, if you do it'd better be fuckin cool

*Bonus points for picking 'narrator'.

God Over Djinn fucked around with this message at 18:27 on Dec 12, 2013

God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards
Things I am really hoping somebody will do:

Southern US or Appalachian (don't none a y'all wanna write about hillbillies?)

God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards
entries are closed.

e: and by entries i meant sign-ups.

God Over Djinn fucked around with this message at 20:37 on Dec 14, 2013

God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards
time's up motherfuckers, submissions are closed. Thanks kindly for submitting to my cruel and vicious whimsy.

So how does this judging thing work?

God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards
I'm on irc, gotta go to bed pretty soon though

oops wrong irc I got it under control now

God Over Djinn fucked around with this message at 07:19 on Dec 16, 2013

God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards
:siren: Thunderdome Seventy-One Results :siren:

This week's winner is foutre, who managed to keep language relevant while writing a story that didn't make my teeth hurt. I kept the blood throne warm for ya, buddy, now craft a prompt that'll make me get off my rear end and write.

Loser is Helsing. This wanted to be an interesting story so badly but turned out to be a pile of (post-apocalyptic?) Scottish military without much in the way of characters, setting, or plot.

Crits to follow very soon.

God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards
crits crits crits crits crits

Mercedes - Untitled

This is a pile of cool and funny ideas. I like the idea of setting an old man's shaggy dog tale in the cyberpunk future (You could've done this a lot better, though). I like the way you used the contrast between Quinn and Jermaine to make it 'about' language. I love the last line, although I might be reading more into it than you intended (also I hope combining that with Quinn's lie about 'hearing his dad calling' was intentional and not a failure of editing).

Unfortunately it is neither a cool nor a funny story because it's hardly a story. What is it like being old in what is apparently the setting of Transmetropolitan? What's it like speaking a stigmatized dialect of English as an old person? Is Quinn's relationship with his grandfather any more complicated than 'vague annoyance'? Why am I reading 800 words of Space Jam fanfiction as narrated to the kid from The Boondocks, instead of something that helps me answer these questions?

It's about language, yeah (although to be a really good dialogue story we'd need to get more about Q and J's relationship than the one-note thing you've got going here). On the other hand, you throw a lot of AAVE-like vocabulary and sight dialect in there without ever really capturing the feel of it. Writing in a dialect is more about structure and sound than about putting the right words in and talking about the right things.

foutre - Nowhere Man and a Valley Girl

This made me laugh and you get hella points for that (see what I did there?). I loved your last line, too, even though it was a bit of a cheap shot and pretty poo poo as far as an actual ending goes.

Val-speak works well with the kind of nihilistic and vacant tone of the whole thing. When you write totally emotionlessly about a teenager who survives a suicide attempt with half of his face blown off and then has to return to his high school, it, like, kind of works as satire. Cool. I also like the idea that your narrator is going to kill herself because she feels empty and emotionless, but is discussing that problem in itself in a totally empty and emotionless way. This is an interesting direction to take things in, and it's a shame that you only touch on it in one line ("I mean, like, those Louboutins I was shopping for?...").

The conversation itself doesn't flow very naturally (maybe because NM's questions/responses are so underspecified that they pass 'hollow' and just become 'confusing'). If we knew they were talking about the girl's planned suicide from the get-go, and then the revelation about her feeling 'empty' came as the pivotal point in a prompted explanation of why she's going to kill herself, that would be great. As it stands, I just get lost, we're skipping from Tom, to some other stuff, to Tom, etc. Her disgust and disdain for what happened to Tom doesn't seem like a great motivation for suicide, either, but the story seems to be saying that this is the main reason.

The use of language is relevant to the plot and tone (this story wouldn't mean the same thing if she was speaking Standard American English at all, which is what I asked for), so good job on that front.

Bitchtits McGee - Bonny Brinna

So, here's the thing. I absolutely loved this, but your other two judges wanted it to lose, so we settled on 'no mention'.

I'm sure they'll thoroughly poo poo on it in their crits, so I'm going to give it some unqualified praise to balance things out. It reminds me strongly of Riddley Walker, both linguistically and tone/setting-wise. Your aesthetic choices make it almost read like a fable, except that the narrator is actually present, which gives it a less scattered and dreamlike passed-down-through-generations feeling than RW (which I'm going to stop comparing it to, now.)

It took some big brass balls to write the entire thing in a dialect that's going to be super foreign to most of your readers, especially when the subject matter is pretty bizarre, too (I gotta admit, it took me a few tries to figure out what warm was.) Fortunately the narrative structure is simple enough that it's readable, and the dialect sounds cool - it's not the most readable thing in the world, but it is consistent. Good job, going for the simple, straightforward love/war tale to complement the exotic style and setting.

You should have gone a little less heavy with the dialect-specific vocabulary (gen, wor), especially when it replaces a very common word - even at the expense of authenticity, because you're probably going to have readers who aren't me who will be really annoyed by having to read this much Geordie instead of reveling in it. Humans can adapt to phonological changes really quickly but weird vocab isn't always something you can just 'work out' like you can with the sounds of language. Also, would've liked to hear something about Brinna earlier in the story. It would have given it a nice tight 'finished' feel to just get a hint of her earlier in the story.

Like I said, though, I loved this. I'm a sucker for the bizarre-and-borderline-incomprehensible, though.

Helsing - The Lord of Skyguard


Watching men through a scope letís



Alpha dog owns itís



Sam guessed that his men had learned that Meghan was on his way at about the same time that heíd gotten a message on the comms telling him that his target would be arriving shortly.

Congrats, this sentence made my Universal Grammar do a hard reset. gently caress you. This meant you started on the bottom of the pile, and your storytelling wasn't close to good enough for this to claw its way back to the surface.

You have a cool idea - class/authority-based issues, with a revelation based on language, cause a sniper to walk away from his target. Possibly in The Distant Post-Apocalyptic Future?? but frankly there's not even enough to tell where/when we are until the very, very ending, which sucks. What we get in practice is a lot of bloated crap and very little substance. Who is Lord Skyguard? Why is Eureka Actual trying to sell poor Sam up the river? Why is Sam willing to give up the job that easily? (Maybe if he'd been observing Skyguard for weeks I'd believe that he'd started to empathize with him, but not in six hours). These are all interesting questions, but we only get the barest hint of an answer under the pile of military jargon. It's like there's a cool story here somewhere but you aren't telling it to us, just giving us the barest hints that it might be there.

Also I think you're over the word count.

Use of dialect is also quite nice and accurate while still being pleasant to read, and I appreciate the way you made language key to the plot (as opposed to just the aesthetics, tone, etc. of the story). If you leaned on that a little more heavily there might be a good story in it. As it stands, there's no story in it at all, just a bunch of stuff happening.

Obliterati - The Matter of the Succession

I didn't figure out that this was about time travel until the very end, which means both that I'm totally dense and that there was a satisfying moment at the end when I finally worked it out. Unfortunately that was the only satisfying thing about the ending, because this reads as the beginning to a much longer (and probably mediocre) story. Basically this is a good piece of writing and a good premise but not a good response to the prompt or a good short story (and 1000 words is a really tough word limit, it's long enough to make us expect development but short to do a lot.)

Also, this was the weakest response to the prompt this week. 'Victorian English' is a little bit of a copout but I would've had no problem with that if you'd done something like really playing it up for satire, or shown a significant difference between various characters' use of language, or really pushed the 'language as relevant to the plot' angle hard. You didn't do any of those things, too bad.

Tyrannosaurus - Five Star

For a story that's ostensibly about the guy's understanding of his relationship with his son, we sure don't see a lot of it. Instead we get him eating and having a boring conversation with his friend that's more about their relationship than about his kid, but is weak even on that - there's no development of their relationship, just a couple of old dudes reminiscing about high school. Sure, this is how people actually hold a conversation, but it doesn't make for a great plot, especially on this tight of a word limit. Plot is very 'meh', it makes sense and I get what you're saying, but where it comes close to making a point it immediately passes 'interesting' and takes a sharp left into 'cutesy'. There might be conflict under the surface, but we don't see any of it. The only epiphany or climactic moment is some story about a turtle that sounds like something from one of those kids' books your boring relatives buy you at the history museum. Ugh. Show us Kiha and his kid, or else drop the kid entirely and tell us something powerful about Kiha and Abraham.

You picked a cool dialect, and at moments I definitely feel like you get a handle on the rhythm of the language. This is the only dialect I wasn't at all familiar with before this week, but I like the way these guys sound, and it's consistent - and there's a point to it. Like some other stories this week, you suffer a little from using vocabulary items and references to culturally significant objects as a stand-in for grasping the phonology and syntax (what I keep calling the 'feel') of the dialect, but that's a real nitpick. You could've easily used the way that his son talks (probably differently from these two old Hawaiian dudes!) as some kind of symbolism. It definitely would've been relevant. But we never even hear the kid.

God Over Djinn fucked around with this message at 18:47 on Dec 16, 2013

God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards
So in.

God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards

No Longer Flaky posted:



I'll brawl you bb ;-*

God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards
For a Young Supervisor (999 words)

"That's no surprise, you not knowing about borons," said the old man. "We got precautions against 'em these days. But back when I was a fresh-faced young supervisor like you, we worried about 'em.

See, when a person gets bored enough, they begin sheddin' these teensy particles. The scientific name for 'em is about fifty-four syllables long, so we just called 'em borons. Make you feel a little antsy, slow the clock down a bit. Baseline temporal slowdown, in parts of Arizona, can get as bad as zero-point-nine-three seconds per second. In line at the DMV, you might hit a point-eight-five. Ain't so bad.

But way back before we switched to telework, we'd get these feedback cascades. One guy starts leakin', the clock slows down a little bit, and the person next to him starts feelin' like the workday isn't goin' by quite fast enough. You can figure what happens next.

Worst cascade I ever saw, took place right in my very own call center. You ever wonder why they made November 4 a national holiday? Statistically speakin', it's the most boring day of the year. The sky outside that afternoon was the color of absolutely no color at all. The news had resorted to askin' folks how much Halloween candy they had left. Worst of all, nobody felt like callin' us to complain about their phone bills. You could almost taste the borons.

As the day wore on the calls slowed down. The hour before the cascade started, I'd gotten exactly two calls, and both of 'em polite as can be. I found myself watchin' the clock, longing for some excitement. The second hand had been slowin' down all afternoon, and it was slowly grindin' to a stop.

That second hand shivered. It quivered. Bad things could happen in a room this thick with borons. Back in eighty-two, an entire roomful of IRS agents got so bored that time came to a halt. They were stuck there until the government sent in a crew from Cirque du Soleil to entertain 'em back to life. By the time they got found, they were half dead of dehydration. It wasn't a pretty sight.

So when that second hand jumped, I was lookin' right at it, willin' it to move. Of course, I didn't intend for it to start movin' backwards. Which it unmistakably did.

The lady next to me unhung up the phone, listened for a moment, and said 'Have I provided you with a world-class experience today?' I heard the distant sound of a toilet unflushin' itself, and a fair terrible noise it was too. We were in deep trouble.

Now, there were only three people in that buildin' who weren't so bored they were stuck to their chairs. Tier 2 was a bold young man with a voice that lulled colicky babies to sleep. Management had six-inch heels and a manicure that could cut bulletproof glass. And Senior Management, his poly-blend chinos shone like the rising sun. He could crush a man's fist to dust with his handshake. But even these titans hadn't seen such a terrible sight before.

'Ladies and gentlemen!' Tier 2 roared into the microphone. 'We'd like to honor your dedication and hard work with a company pizza party!' And Tier 2 thrust forth his hand, and from his outstretched fingers sprung a pile of pizza boxes ten feet high.

Problem was, uneatin' pizza's kind of disgusting. A temporally reversed pizza party don't inspire nobody, you don't need the details to figure that. By the time everybody'd fetched their greasy plates out of the trash cans and the Little Caesar's guy came to take the pizzas away, half of the office was sittin' there head in hands and the clock wasn't lookin' no better. Tier 2 sagged to the floor in defeat.

So Management came tapping up to the microphone. She'd been dealin' with nasty boron slowdowns since before I was born, and she'd never seen a morale problem she couldn't solve. 'We're starting a new initiative,' she said, glowing with confidence. 'Casual Fridays!'

She gave the desk a tremendous clout, and a wave of darkness settled over the bullpen. And when the fluorescents flickered back to life, everybody was all of a sudden wearin' jeans and loafers and snugly holiday sweaters. I myself had a lovely black toque and a pair of Birkenstocks.

I leaned back in my ergonomic Herman Miller chair, and then I suddenly realized somethin' terrible. I was ready to fall asleep! And from the yawnin' around me, so was everybody else.

Now, you know when you're emittin' more borons than any other time? When you're dozin' at work. The highest levels scientists ever measured, this warehouse worker from Tukwila fell asleep on a pallet. Singlehandedly cut the GDP of Washington State by 10 percent. But that wasn't nothing compared to what we were about to suffer. That clock was flippin' backwards, and fast.

Now, Senior Management was a fearless fellow. He had Bluetooth headsets in both ears, and one more to spare if ever those broke. Whenever he'd come screeching up like a white knight in his black BMW, the whole buildin' held its breath. He strode backwards to the microphone without a stumble.

And, wouldn't you know, lassie," said the old supervisor, "he straightened everything right out." He dug at his beard with a nicotine-stained finger.

The young supervisor leaned forward, wide-eyed. "So? What did he do? Field day? New training initiative?"

"Oh, none of that, lass. He just fired 'em all. Sped things right back up. When we hired the next crew, we made it a policy. You start lookin' bored, you get a warning. Make it a habit, you get the boot."

"That's brilliant," said the young supervisor. "Do you think we should put a couple lines in our next ad? 'Looking for passion and enthusiasm'?"

"Could do," the old supervisor said. "Yeah, that might not be a bad idea at all."

God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards
IMO Mercedes should just do it


God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards
fumblemouse asked for a story about being under dogs or something. also claimed to despise me. here is story. forgive me wordcount gods.

Nibbana 645ish words.

"Please listen carefully. Two interesting things will happen on October 4, 2068," said the voice. "You haven't gone crazy. You just thought 'Okay, then what number am I thinking of?'. Then you thought 'seven thousand, eight hundred and forty-six.'

Here are the two things that will happen. First, you will die peacefully in your sleep. Eight seconds later, the entire universe will utterly and permanently cease to exist. Tomorrow's Powerball numbers are 1, 14, 28, 29, 44, 5."

I fell to my knees on the bathroom floor, ears ringing with the sheer amplitude of the voice. When I could stand again, I stumbled downstairs to the bodega. The answer to the obvious question, I supposed, would be written on my lottery ticket.

It was. I spent the next day sobbing on the floor and the following twenty-six years as an orgiastic going-away fete for the planet Earth. Fast cars, research chemicals. A trip to Thailand, in one of my soberer periods, to have my tubes tied. By daylight, my gently caress-it-let's-drink fatalism paired nicely with a Nolet's and tonic. At night I would wake from a sticky hungover sleep, gasping, screaming the fear of eternity into my eiderdown pillow.

At year twenty-seven I discovered Alcoholics Anonymous, which returned a prickling awareness to my long-numbed soul. My sponsor was a tolerant hippie, willing to accept my apocalyptic obsession as just your reality, love, who am I to tell you what you've experienced?

"How are you feeling today, love?" she asked, sipping an organic decaf.

"I'm afraid," I said, "because the world is going to end."

"And why does that frighten you so?" she said. "You'll be long dead beforehand, love, so you should just try to lead a good life while you can, shouldn't you?"

She didn't know how right she was.

"I want to leave a legacy. Otherwise, why bother to live?"

We'd long since worn smooth the edges of this conversation. But Sandra, bless her, finally said something that I hadn't considered. "Why not," she asked, "stop wanting that? Then you wouldn't have to suffer."

Unfortunately, twenty-six years of debauchery had left my senses keyed to desire. So, you'll laugh, but I started by not wanting an ice cream sandwich.

It was a boiling summer day, and - sitting on my cool granite countertop, sipping a soft cider - the craving bubbled up. I tried to change my mind. Easier said than done, without resorting to excuses or forgetting. But after an hour, desire, exhausted from being tamped down and ignored, admitted defeat.

From there I moved on to more complicated wants. I'd white-knuckled it through AA, but cravings still plagued me. For days, I tried to not want a drink. And one morning in the shower, I suddenly realized that I didn't feel like a gin and tonic.

Once I got the hang of it, I could shed desires like leaves from an autumn tree. I no longer wanted new shoes, homemade mac and cheese, a Christmas tree, biological children, or world peace. With a dozen years of patient practice, I rid myself of the last of my desires. After a week spent pacing and taking hour-long showers, I ceased wanting to leave a mark on the world.

On October 4, 2068, I finished the daily crossword by flashlight. I crawled into my tent, feeling my senses grow dull with exhaustion. "Goodnight, planet Earth," I said. "I'm sorry I couldn't do more for you." I had decided long ago that when the time came, I wouldn't try to force myself to stay awake. As I drifted off, I thought of absolutely nothing.

I woke to the lowing of cows and a dazzling sunrise. "Please listen carefully," boomed the voice. "Something very interesting -"

"Oh, gently caress off," I said. I buried my face in my travel pillow, and enjoyed my first untroubled sleep in half a century.

God Over Djinn fucked around with this message at 23:40 on Dec 27, 2013

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