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ceaselessfuture
Apr 9, 2005

"I'm thirty," I said. "I'm five years too old to lie to myself and call it honor."


I find these assignments difficult, not for the prompts themselves, but the word count. I'm used to working on stories that go for around 3-5k words, giving me the time and space I need to flesh things out, so it's a very interesting and challenging experience for me to write things that are less than half of what I'm used to.

But I feel like it's focusing me on fundamentals that I need more work on anyway, so thanks, Thunderdome! I'm already stoked for next week.

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Obliterati
Nov 13, 2012

Ask me about being the most Magnificent Bastard in EU4 Multiplayer.

Full of Hot Air
(1199)

By the time I reached the Garden Dome it was already over. Albert had gotten there ahead of me, drat him, already kneeling beneath a tree. “Bomb,” he said. “Good thing I was here.”

“Like hell,” I said, brushing past the foliage. Five jobs in a row he'd beaten me. Years of fat commissions he'd swiped from me. Plenty more shifts in the mines he’d forced on me. He wouldn't let ends meet.

“That's no attitude to have.” Albert was a bastard. The Authority’s golden boy. No days down in the dark for him, no aeons crouched behind a drill.

I inhaled, the air of the Garden hot and dank in my lungs. “I don't see the bomber.”

He shrugged and turned the bomb over. “One thing at a time.” It was a regular mining charge. One word scratched into the plating: Breathe.

I cast a look through the glass of the Dome. The desert was out there like always. All it would take was one puncture, a single fracture in the colony's brittle skin. Internal damage we could survive - the massive Dome produced so much oxygen that they had to vent it out periodically - but integrity loss would be catastrophic.

“What's their angle, Al? Why end the colony? Why like this?”

He stood up. “Look, old man,” he said, “you wanna know why I always beat you?” He lifted one of his bear hands and tapped the side of his head. “I'm a cop. You're a creaky amateur. You oughta stick to your day job.”

I grinned. “This is my day job. I'll catch them before you do, boy wonder.”

He snorted. “You're on.”

#

Limping through the ill-lit tunnels that led to the lifts, I reviewed the fact. Fact singular: a great big bomb. No answer to the most important question. Why kill the Garden? The sole source of oxygen on the entire planet. Why kill the Garden?

I reached the lift doors. I always swore I'd never go back. But the people just wouldn't co-operate. Every outbreak of goodwill to all men sent me back to clawing my paycheck out of the rock.

“Going down?” Albert emerged from the shadows. Bastard moved like a cat. “Hey, you given up already?”

“It's called making inquiries.”

“Nice line. Where'd you find it? I'm here to 'detect', personally.”

The doors opened. I drew a breath and stepped in. Albert followed. The world closed in around us and the mechanism shuddered into life. I tried to focus on the case.

Every colony has its crazies. It's any one of a million things. The stars hanging wrong in the sky; the red, angry sunlight; the feeling of being - being trapped, encased in glass and steel. You would have to be mad to stay sane.

“You okay there, champ?”

“Go to hell.”

“Relax, buddy, I know how you get. Can't be easy.”

“Leave it.”

“I'm not having a go at you, man. Mining's a noble profession, you know? Those exports keep the Authority running. You're an important cog in the machine.”

I said nothing. The lift stopped and opened onto the mines. Down here you could almost forget the Garden Dome. My head scraping the ceiling, I shuffled through to the office and sat at the terminal. Albert followed.

Step one of real detection: establish a window. My eyes swept over the data. One charge unaccounted for, as expected. Now just when, where and how. I looked again. There was a second one missing. “Well, this one's tenacious.”

Albert leant over my shoulder. “You should go interrogate the foreman.”

“Why don't you?” I asked. “No need. Our friend here's going to try another target. Something critical. But more vulnerable.”

“Water?”

“Gotta be. Nice soft target.”

Albert drew himself up. “Good work, rookie. Race ya!” He ruffled my hair and shot off.

“Hey!” I shouted, going for convincing. I turned back to the terminal.

How could he miss it? They went and wrote it on the bomb. 'Breathe', it said. Whatever this was, it wasn't aimless. It was about the Garden, about our life's breath. It had to be about the Garden. Basic deduction. I hoped. I waited until I heard the clunk of the lift doors closing, locking him in, before standing up.

#

I hobbled into the Garden legs aching, pistols holstered. I nearly tripped over the guard: face down, spread-eagled and leaking blood. I knelt, searching for a pulse.

“Don't bother.”

Someone was standing further down the path. She was tall and spindly, like all the colony-born: the thin gravity couldn't hold them down. Her body stretched upwards like a creeping vine.

I drew a gun. “Dead man's switch,” she said. “Be my guest.”

“Don't make me call your bluff,” I said. “You're no martyr or we wouldn't be having this conversation. You'd be splattered all over these trees already.”

“I ain't going back down the mines. I ain't slaving for the lie any more.”

I laughed. “Sister, I don't even know what the truth is.”

“Hell you don't. You're Authority.” She opened the folds of her jacket. The bomb was nestled below her right breast. “Come get it, pig. This is our planet. I'm gonna take back what's ours.”

“Tell me. Why kill everyone? Why-” The whum of the door cut me off.

“Nice try, you piece of poo poo.” Albert stormed into the Dome behind me, rifle at the ready. “You think tricks like that work on real cops?”

“No, I don't.”

He raised the rifle. “Screw you. Now get out of my line of fire, jackass.”

I drew my second gun and aimed right back at him. “Dead man's switch, idiot. Hold your fire.”

The bomber had had enough. “You stole this colony!” she shouted at us. “From true real purpose, for metals! Don't you care about why we're really here? Why the Garden's so large? Don't you care about anything but money?”

I looked back. “That's above my paygrade.”

She flinched. “You-”

Albert stepped forward. “I don't care either. You gonna shoot me, grandad?”

“Only one way to find out.”

He lunged. I fired, but he ducked beneath my arm and charged. The bullet shot harmlessly overhead. I flew sideways, slamming into a tree. My head swam: the glass of the Dome rippled above me.

“Right, girlie,” I heard him say. “Now it's my turn-”

The ground shook, and the Dome shattered into stardust. I blacked out.

#

I came to, which was good enough. I coughed once, rolled Albert off me, and stood. I looked around. The Dome was gone, the trees scorched.

“Nice work, golden boy,” I said. “Did you know about this? Some goddamn secret atmosphere?”

He looked up at me. “Not a fuckin' thing.”

I looked up, nothing above me but the summer sun. I felt good. “Authority's gonna be pissed.”

“No poo poo.”

“Here's the deal. I'll stay quiet about how you just hosed everything – if you do one thing for me.”

He spat sand. “No goddamn way.”

“Admit it.” I opened my phone.

He sighed. “Fine. You win.”

I crouched down in front of him. “Smart choice. You stick with me, kid, and you might just learn something.”

Paladinus
Jan 11, 2014





And Peace on Earth
(900 words)
Prompt: winter earth

From thousands of miles away Earth looked almost the same with all humans gone; with maybe less shimmering lights of cities where night covered the planet, and probably less radio spectrum pollution. Humans were gone for a reason – they were no longer welcome. The planet had close to none natural resources left and the climate had become too harsh for humans and most animals. Earth mostly survived thanks to Alpha Centauri colonies that were willing to share their resources and high maintenance weather control systems, but ultimately it became too much of a burden to sustain life on the planet. First politicians and then all others agreed it was time to leave the planet for good. But not many wanted to actually pull the plug on the cradle of humanity.

Lin Chang had never visited Earth. Even now when she had an opportunity to see it with an expedition, she preferred to stay on the ship. It’s always harder to say goodbye to someone you know than to a perfect stranger. Lin’s grand-grand-grandmother had left Earth as a child with the last group of native earthlings, even Lin’s parents never considered Earth to be their home, and she never understood people who did. For that reason she opposed the very idea of Earth conservation as an absolute waste of resources – people voted for it out of sheer sentimentality, grasping at remnants of their supposedly great past. Still, it was her job to supervise large-scale governmental space projects and she couldn’t say no to a hefty quarterly bonus.

The project hadn’t been going too well, though. With some unexpected seismic activity near Earth’s South Pole, the date of conservation had to be pushed forward. After another long and tiring round of seismologic research and astronomical calculations a new date had been announced. It was Christmas, the only day in twenty years that seemed to satisfy all criteria. For the team of two thousand it meant other two months in space without additional pay according to their governmental work contracts. For the population of Alpha Centauri colonies it meant twelve more trillion credits of taxpayers’ money spent on a controversial initiative.

It was a stressful time for Lin. She had to explain to her own husband and daughter why she absolutely couldn’t be with them on Christmas, and give what felt like a thousand of identical interviews trying to convince public opinion that the project would still be an absolute success – mostly lying through her teeth, basically. Every day brought new doubts to the team members, more and more people wanted to resign despite contractual penalties, there were even some rumours of possible sabotage.

Lin had already made some promises to the staff that she wasn’t sure she was allowed to make on behalf of government, but this didn’t win anyone over. She had one last chance left. One day before deadline she gathered everyone in the main hall of the residential quarters where the Christmas tree was installed. Only half of the team turned up.

‘First of all, I would like to thank you for your work so far. This was a tough year for us all and I-’ Lin paused as a group of about twenty engineers were leaving the hall, ‘Look, I know you see no purpose behind this project. Neither do I, to be frank. It doesn’t even pay all that well at this point and I can’t promise anything to fix this. All I ask of you now is that when you go back to your room and look at Earth from an illuminator on your way, I beg of you to see not just a barren empty planet that drains our resources, but a place where Jesus Christ was born on Christmas day. A place where Buddha found enlightenment, where Mohammed received Quran and God gave his promise to Abraham. The world that Odysseus travelled, while gods fought their own fights, the world of Gilgamesh and Krishna, Huangdi and King Arthur. The planet of our myths and legends, but also the planet where first robots were envisioned and constructed, and first spaceships flew our ancestors to the stars. All this history is still there, it’s still tangible and real even if we don’t care about it. Maybe in five thousand years someone will stumble upon this inconspicuous planet and will be amazed and inspired by what they could find there. Maybe it will inspire you to do what we’ve come here for. I really hope it will. Thank you again.’

There was no reaction apart from a quite murmur that was too hard to read as approval or otherwise. The hall became empty and Lin wandered to her quarters.

In twenty-four hours all twelve ships were orbiting around Earth waiting for the planet to perfectly align with the Moon and the Sun. In this act of cosmic ballet humans had a very special role. On December 25, 2839 thousands of invisible rays from electromagnetic and gravitational cannons pierced the planet. The silence of cosmos added more to grandeur to Earth’s bidding farewell to its orbit than any music that would be later used in film adaptations of this historical moment. Very soon Earth would drift away far enough from the Sun to freeze in perpetual Christmas morning.

‘Merry Christmas, Earth,’ said Lin trying to fight back her tears. Now she could finally believe her own words.

Fumblemouse
Mar 21, 2013


STANDARD
DEVIANT


Grimey Drawer

wordcount:600
Spring Fire

Outside her window


Outside Dorothy’s window the snow had melted into puddles, leaving only brownish drifts like smudges on her lawn and on the street. The first shoots of green could be seen in the trees and bushes of her garden and the crisp spring sun rose above the terraced rooftops across the road for the first time in months. For a moment Dorothy just stood, letting the light shine on her face, remembering springs from years ago. Tiggens, her cat, chased his tail between her feet. His sun-warmed back felt pleasant against her stockinged calves

“Dorothy,” she gently scolded herself. “Look at you, standing there, fascinated like a schoolgirl. It’s not like you haven’t seen spring a million times before. Pull yourself together.”

Dorothy shuffled away from the window, carefully avoiding getting tangled up in Tiggens, and settled into her yellow armchair. She idly ran her fingers along one of the small tears in the armrest as she considered what else to do with the day. Perhaps a cup of tea would be in order. Then she could dive in to her new book, the one about knitting in the Himalayas. Tiggens jumped into her lap and purred as she absentmindedly tickled behind his ears, his fur hot against her fingers.

Tiggens exploded. Small bits of hair and flesh coated Dorothy’s hand, the rest decorated the walls and ceiling of her small lounge, leaving only a titanium skeleton smoking and sparking in her lap. She pushed it to the floor with a frightened wiggle of her hips.

“Oh dear,” said Dorothy, wetly shaking bits of Tiggens from her fingers, then cleaning flecks of him from her spectacles.. She struggled up out of the armchair and glanced out the window. Outside, the snow had vanished - not turned into puddles for small children to splosh around in, but evaporated entirely. A brown, leafless trees burst into flame. As Dorothy came to the window for a closer look, the pavement across the street undulated with waving heat. The sun loomed large in the sky, larger than it had any right to be. The boy who delivered the morning paper was walking up the road, looking increasingly disconcerted and epically pink.

Dorothy grabbed the small tablet-pc left by the window seat. She pushed a button and the screen lit up. Dorothy scanned the settings for the weather app. There it was - Spring was set to Fire. Dorothy dragged the slider setting down to the more appropriate Shower and watched as the scene outside calmed. Increasingly larger clouds approached the sun, which retreated behind them. A gentle wash of spring rain began to cascade from the heavens. Trees and bushes grew green shoots and the paperboy took on an altogether more relaxed hue. The metallic cat innards on her living room floor hissed and steamed.

Dorothy took the endoskeleton and opened the front door. The brushed steel of corridor 3785 looked sterile in the half-light. She opened the receptacle beside her front door and deposited the remains into it, pushed a button and watched as the container glowed for a moment. The vacuum-hiss of the departing refuse reminded her of the way Tiggens used to indicate his dislike of tuna without the brine drained.

Returning to her armchair with the tablet in her hands, Dorothy logged on to her favourite review site and wrote a scathing report about the Pet/VistaView interface module’s shortcomings. She ordered another Tiggens without the module, pleased that the earlier model saved her a few credits. Then she returned to her book. The spring rain ran down her window-pane unseen.

Shaky Premise
Nov 10, 2007
I will launch an attack with my Blitzkrieg Army of Bunnies.

Against the Cold
(1145 words)

My car broke down about an hour ago and I’ve been painfully trekking the road since then, a combination of walking and hiking, my numb feet digging into the white, deceptively beautiful snow.

I’m on my way to spend the holidays in my parents’ cabin in rural northern Ontario. Unable to withstand the cold Canadian winter, like geese, they migrated south for the winter. Unable to withstand the pretentious social gatherings that inevitably came with Christmas, I drove away towards their isolated cabin in the woods.

I was almost there when my car stopped running. Possessing no automotive skills, and with my cellphone battery out of power, I continued my commute on foot. The cabin should have electricity and once I charge my phone, I can call for a tow truck. I was dressed appropriately in a down-filled parka, a knitted toque with matching scarf, insulated boots, waterproof gloves, and a fleece sweater layer; but it’s twenty degrees Celsius below zero, cloudy, and after an hour of trudging through the snow on an unpaved trail, frostbite and hypothermia became imminent threats.

The dull pain in my feet turned into an odd pricking. I can barely feel the lower half of my body and the wind was stinging my face. “Just a little further,” I kept telling myself. The woods were familiar enough that I knew my way but the approach of night meant an escalation of shivery aggression. I forced myself to walk faster, dragging my heavy feet.

When I finally arrived at the cabin, the prospect of comfort and shelter disappeared as I was greeted with the unwelcoming arctic temperature inside. The oil furnace had no fuel and there was no electricity. My only solace now was to light a fire.

The great room on the main floor centered around a jet-black, cast iron wood stove, an ebony statue elevated on a solid platform of bricks; its matte, sooty texture incited memories of warm, radiant heat.

I can operate a wood stove well enough but there was no wood or kindling in the house. “The shed,” I remembered. Dry, seasoned firewood was stock in the shed outside. Reluctantly, I headed back out into the treacherous cold.

The woodshed was just around the corner of the cabin but the path was covered in knee-high snow. My legs battled the white, powdery resistance but unable to see the ground, I misstepped and fell on my hands and knees. A gloating gust of wind then slugged me across the face complete with pelted snow. “gently caress!” I screamed angrily but I was compelled to relive the tender embrace of that warm fire so I got up and accepted my struggle.

I reached the woodshed only to find that its door was blocked shut by more snow. Using a nearby shovel, I started digging. My heart was pounding in exhaustion and desperation as the dream of my comforting repose came closer and closer. I pulled the door open with all of my strength and in utter disappointment found the woodshed empty.

As children, we were punished in the summer by being simply sent to our room with no entertainment but in winter, punishment was a harsh temporary excommunication from the house. I would stand outside, rubbing my hands for temporary relief, while looking in through the window at my family, comfortably snuggling on the couch near the wood stove. The bitter disciplinary method was better remembered than the lesson it meant to teach.

I remembered from my last visit that there was also a stack of firewood located at the edge of the property. A half of a cord of firewood, still seasoning for next winter, might not yet be ready to burn, but it was my only option. Traversing a four-acre lot seemed like a perilous expedition so I went back to the cabin to prepare for the journey.

I donned a second oversized wool coat, a pair of snow pants over my wet jeans, extra socks, and a fur-trimmed hat over my toque. I also found a sled, which will carry an axe and a shovel. I immediately went on my way, pulling the sled behind me.

The weight and bulk of the extra clothes made my movement sluggish while the fervor of the icy wind knocked me from side to side. The sound of cracking branches echoed in the distance, thunderous snapping followed by a ringing thump that subsided to a gentle hiss. The soft, pillowy snow created a uniform blanket on the ground, an illusion of innocence and sentimentality, a violent temper hidden behind a semblance of calm.

A callous adversary, I confronted it by moving as quickly as I could, reminding myself of the warmth that awaits me once my punishment was complete. The cozy respite that will end my suffering is a worthwhile reward.

I was relieved to reach the wood pile as it also meant that I was halfway done my journey. My body, anesthetized by the heartless, boreal world, seemed to move slowly by each footstep. Still, I managed to clear the area of any snow, stack the firewood and kindling onto the sled, and arduously made my way back.

I returned to the cabin just as nightfall approached. I carried my treasures into the house, simultaneously sighing with relief and panting with fatigue. My resolve was fuelled by the encroaching darkness.

The wood stove, the stoic fixture, was my salvation. I checked the damper and intake for blockage. The doors on the stove creaked quietly as I opened them. I arranged thick, crumpled-up sections of newspaper at the bottom of the stove then I layered on it in order: twigs, kindling, and thin pieces of firewood. I grabbed the barbecue lighter from the kitchen. My hands were trembling in anxiety and shivering from the cold.

The lighter made a clicking sound as I pulled its trigger. Luckily, it had enough fuel and its long nozzle was helpful in safely lighting the newspaper at the base. I watched the fire spread to the next layers. The twigs and kindling gently crackled as they easily caught the flame. The firewood, however, was poorly sizzling. The wood was moist and I can hear the water evaporating, rejecting the fire. I took turns of blowing on it and patiently watching it burn, conscious of inhaling smoke.

I rubbed my hands together and allowed the glow of the wood stove to envelop me. I welcomed the revitalizing heat. The vibrancy of the flames lit up the room and shadows danced on the wall. The temperature in the room was slowly rising and I was relieved to be finally safe from the apathetic brutality of the cold.

In the morning, electricity returned. I charged my phone, called a tow truck company, and made the decision to go back to the city, victorious against my frigid enemy.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Grimey Drawer

A Dirge for Lost Flowers
829 words


http://writocracy.com/thunderdome/?...or+Lost+Flowers

crabrock fucked around with this message at Jan 1, 2015 around 19:25

flerp
Feb 25, 2014

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2019


996 words

Prompt: Autumn Water

A Perfect Day

I grabbed onto Charlene and pulled her through the park, our feet crunching leaves as we got closer to the bridge. She turned to me with a grin, her blue eyes as bright as the day we first met. This was, after all, the happiest day of our lives.

We would go to the restaurant we always went to. Then, we would go shopping, going into the same stores that we always do. And finally, we would end the day by going into the park, standing on the bridge where I proposed to her, and watch the fish swim below us. The same thing for the past fifteen years.

The leaves had turned red and brown, and they were piled on the path to the bridge. The sun was shining although the leaves were still damp from the rain that faded an hour ago. The trees were almost all barren; a few leaves hung on to the branches, but they were going to fall soon. Time has a way of getting things to let go.

When the rusted bridge got into view, Charlene ran ahead of me. The river flowed underneath the bridge, splashing up and getting the bridge wet. Charlene leaned over the railing, staring deep into the water.

I just watched her. It looked as if she was in a trance, her gaze never looking away from the raging waters. The river pushed and pulled against itself, as if it was trying to change direction.

I touched her and broke her from her concentration. She wrapped her arm across my hip and pulled herself in closer. Her leather jacket slipped across mine.

“This is my favorite part of this day.” She said. “It’s so perfect.”

I looked around the park, taking in the falling leaves and smell of rain that had just started to fade away. Every year was always the same, the sun would just start to fall beneath the horizon, and we would stand here, watching the world pass us by.

I couldn’t stand it anymore.

I wanted something new, something exciting. Every day felt the same, but Charlene was happy. She woke up every morning with a smile on her face and joy in her voice. And for a long time, so did I. I was stuck in a loop, with every day bleeding into the next, but I was happy. I was trapped, but I was glad I was trapped with Charlene.

The world was so loud. The foaming water crashing onto itself. The chirping of the birds. The faint conversation of a couple a few feet away.

I couldn’t stand it anymore.

“I can’t do this.” I said.

“Do what?”

“This.”

Charlene looked around the park, “What? Come here? I thought you loved it here?”

“No, not this. Us.”

Charlene turned back to me, her blue eyes locked on mine.

“What are you saying?”

“I want to end this.”

Charlene turned away from me and started to cry. I touched her shoulder. I wanted to say something, but every word I thought of felt hollow. I wanted to say I’m sorry, or it’s not her fault, or something that would’ve made her stop crying, but I was tired of lying.

“Why? Why after all these years you call it quits now?” She asked.

“Because I just can’t live this life anymore.”

“Why? What’s wrong with it? What’s wrong with me?”

“Nothing. It’s me. I just don’t feel the same anymore. I just want something new.”

“What does that even me?”

“I don’t know, just not this.”

Charlene pushed my hand off of her and leaned over the railing. Her tears feel like leaves. I stared at the tears as they dripped into the river. She was trembling and her hands covered her face. She tried to wipe the tears off, but they kept coming. It felt awful to see her like that. It felt even more awful that I was happy something new was happening in my life.

“You need to leave. I just need some time.” Charlene said, still looking at the river.

“I’ll see you in the car.” I said.

I walked away from Charlene.

“Wait.” Charlene said.

I turned around. Charlene stood there, her hair golden in the sunlight, the grey specks in her hair gone. The bags under her eyes had faded away, and her jacket was replaced by a floral dress. The trees were full of life, and the bridge’s rust disappeared. A man knelt in front of her, offering her a black box.

“Charlene, I love you so much.” He lifted open the box. “I don’t ever want to lose you. Will you marry me?”

“Of course!” Charlene wiped a tear from her eye. “Of course I will!”

The man got up and slipped the ring onto Charlene’s finger. They kissed. I closed my eyes, hoping to stop the tears from coming any stronger.

“Can you just stay with me a little bit longer?” Charlene asked.

I opened my eyes, and the old Charlene stood there. She wiped the tears from her eyes, trying to make herself seem strong.

I walked over to her, and she took out a handkerchief and wiped my face.

“You look like a mess.” She said.

“People in glass houses shouldn’t be throwing stones.”

Charlene smiled. We both looked across the river, staring at the sun start to dip beneath the horizon. She set her head on my shoulder and I ran my fingers through her greying hair.

“I’m sorry.” I said.

She looked up at me, her blue eyes wide. “It’s ok. I understand.”

As we stood on that bridge, the night came and the street lights flicked on. We just stood there, watching as the waters raged below us. We were silent, just listening to the sounds of the crickets and the rush of water. Somehow, everything felt perfect, like it was all meant to be. We left and I never came back.

docbeard
Jul 18, 2011

High marks for compassion, low marks for survival skills





Last Dance
1197 Words

docbeard fucked around with this message at Dec 29, 2014 around 15:51

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under Heaven. The time for submitting stories ends in thirty minutes.

Grizzled Patriarch
Mar 27, 2014

These dentures won't stop me from tearing out jugulars in Thunderdome.




edit: snip

Grizzled Patriarch fucked around with this message at Dec 4, 2014 around 01:52

Noah
May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch


Dead Air
Words: 1110
Theme: Winter Air

One more head, that was all Julius, the criminal, needed. Just one more head. Daniel wondered if he would have taken his had he told him no. Daniel tried to keep a clear head through the pounding headache as he sucked from the oxygen mask. They had taken a spill down the snow covered scree, trying to find that one last zombie head Julius was sure was in the area. Julius suffered what might be a broken ankle, but the old Sherpa boots the guards had given them concealed all parts of their feet.

“gently caress, I was so close,” Julius said. “God just one more for those loving head-tossers. Do you have any idea how long I’ve been up here?”

The guards had paired Daniel with Julius on purpose despite the significant differences in quotas still left. Julius was one of the more experienced thinners, they called them, and Daniel had just been handed his sentence. At first Daniel believed his 100 heads to be a death sentence, but when he saw how efficiently Julius could scale the pass and harvest the still-frozen zombie heads his fears began to melt off. Until he learned that Julius was near done with his horrific 500.

Daniel shook his head, trying to get the blackness out of the corners of his eyes. He continued to suck on the oxygen mask and hammered on his thighs to get the feeling back. Julius hobbled over to him, the bundle of heads hanging heavy on his injured side. One more head didn’t mean anything to Daniel, but now the bastard might have killed them both. He made sure to keep his distance, even with Julius’s injury.

As Julius got closer Daniel stood, clutching the oxygen tank. Julius paused. Daniel wished he could see the man’s face, but the sunglasses and balaclava covered it completely.

“What are you doing?” Julius asked.

“What are you doing?!”

“I just need some air, man,” Julius said. Daniel took off the mask quickly, warm embarrassment creeping through his neck making it itchy. Julius breathed in controlled, deep breaths.

“We might have to stay up here for the night, I don’t think I can make it back down,” Julius said.

Daniel imagined the man skulking over his sleeping bag, the machete glinting in the moonlight. Julius was in no condition to dig up anymore lifeless bodies, he wouldn’t have to. He would have his head that night. The tossers at the bottom of the pass wouldn’t even know, or care. Zombie heads or convict heads, same difference.

“We won’t last the night, we’ll freeze up here.”

“We’ll be okay, I’ve been doing this for a while now.”

“No, we have to go back, we have to go back.”

Julius fell silent and instead kept breathing in the mask. Daniel felt the man’s gaze look deep inside him. A memory of Daniel when he was first sent to prison came rushing back. Sam Watson, a skin head from the yard, stood in front of him. Just staring down at Daniel. Daring him to fight back. When Daniel hesitated, Sam pushed him, punched him, shoved him to the ground and spit on him. Every day Sam knew Daniel wouldn’t, maybe he couldn’t, fight back. Daniel could feel Julius looking at him the exact same way that Sammy looked at him that very first day.

“We’re gonna stay here for the night, we have food, we have enough air, we are going to be okay,” Julius said. “And in the morning, we’re going to get one more head before we get to camp, right Daniel?”

Daniel slumped to the ground. There was nothing he could say. The sharp, cold air caught in his lungs, freezing them, constricting their ability to take in enough oxygen. They felt like an according that couldn’t stretch out all the way and he reached his hands out for the mask.

Julius paused and put the mask down.

“You have to calm down, you’re just hyper-ventilating, that’s normal, you can get control of it,” Julius said. Daniel nodded, but still grasped for the mask, his fingers curling in their gloves. Julius handed Daniel the mask, and he nursed the air for several long minutes.

“Okay that’s enough, we’re going to have to save that.” When Julius reached for it he felt Sammy tower over him, and he thrashed wildly. Julius was thrown off balance and tripped over the bag of zombie heads.

Daniel fell on him with a savagery he would vaguely remember. The dull machete hacked again and again, first getting caught in the thick wool and fleece lined jacket, and then in Julius’s forearms as he tried to shield himself from the blows.

Finally, Daniel felt the neck fully give and he fell in a heap next to the still body. Nausea wracked his body and lightheadedness prevented him from climbing to his feet. He rolled on the ground feeling for where the mask was. Long moments passed as he thrashed about blindly. His hands found home as he banged them on the metal canister. Pins and needles shot through his entire arm, and he had to shift his weight to his other, but the pull from the oxygen mask immediately gave him relief.

After several minutes he gathered Julius’s head and tossed it into the sack with handfuls of snow and rocks, hoping to disguise the gruesome crime in the mountain pass. In one hand he dragged the sack full of heads, and in the other the oxygen tank, each making grooves in the scree as he lurched downwards. He was wearing the oxygen mask now, but he couldn’t seem to shake the darkness completely from his eyes.
***

“Julius, Julius Rogers,” Daniel said. In front of him the head-tossers stood side by side. He heaved the burlap sack onto the wooden table and sat down. Underneath his parka he chewed his bottom lip furiously. One by one the counters rolled a head, made a hash and tossed it into thick plastic bin.

“Thirteen, fourteen, fifteen,” the tosser called. The counter marked. Daniel couldn’t watch as they went through the last of them. He put his hands in front of him, wrists together, sleeves pulled slightly back for the inevitable realization. “Seventeen, eighteen, nineteen.”

The tosser paused. The counter walked up to Daniel.

“Congratulations, you’re a free man Julius Rogers,” the man said. Daniel turned and saw the man had extended a hand. Numbly he stood, and grasped the counter’s hand as hard as he could through the glove. Daniel stumbled out of the tent, shivering uncontrollably, the blackness seeping further into his eyes.

blue squares
Sep 28, 2007


Soiled Meat

Kaishai posted:

To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under Heaven. The time for submitting stories ends in thirty minutes.

goddamn there are a lot of stories this week. The judges practically have to read a long novella

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010

I got it wrong. Look, I'm well aware I got it wrong and uh, I got it wrong.


whistling, howling


All across Berlin the winter wind played a requiem on the telephone lines, and wrote its name in frost on grubby windows. Karla hugged her jacket close, and tried to ignore it. Everywhere, she saw echoes of Jan and the things he'd loved. Here a wilted lilac clinging to the side of an old stone building, there a boatman pushing through the jags of ice floating on the Spree. In the distance, towers of glass and chrome penetrating up through the skyline, filling the holes once left by Allied bombs. A testament to recovery, but a reminder of tragedy; an absence of attention that left a hole in the world.

Karla the wind seemed to say as it blasted through the streets, rattling windows and whistling down lanes, Karla.

“Karla,”

She stopped, and turned. That wasn't her imagination. The voice was filled with longing, and pain. She knew it too well. She had laid next to it in bed for years. She had argued with it over which type of cheese to buy, over finding time to visit her mother, over whether it was time to have children. Despite the chill, she felt a warmth spreading through her chest. She choked back tears. Just her imagination playing tricks. Her father warned her of this. Grieving madness that sends little bone needles to scratch at the brain. She needed a coffee, and a shower. Maybe blare the loudest music she could find until all the memories were blasted to bits.

“Karla,” the voice said again.

She clutched her jacket tightly to herself. The boatman was well out of earshot by now, and the snows had cleared the streets of people. No fear of looking foolish. She cleared her throat. “You're not real,” she said. That was a lie. She bit her lip, and sought new words.

“You're gone,” she muttered. The words tumbled out, and were snatched up by the whistling wind. It wailed around her, pulling at her hair and her coat. So this was how madness came: on an empty street in the stinking guts of winter, with her in a black veil.

She trudged on through the snow. It was deep enough that she sank in almost up to her knees. Some of it got into her boots, and melted on contact with the warm skin. The water trickled down into her socks. It made her tread heavy, and uncomfortable. She needed to get home, and forget all this. Forget-

It had snowed on their wedding day too. Even with the heaters blasting, the inside of the chapel had been icy. As she'd held his hand, she had found herself realising that the cold did not bother him, and nor did it bother her. His touch was a shield against the cold. A chipped and dented thing for sure, but stronger for all the blows it had taken. Gone, now. Shattered on a roadside, left broken until morning. His skin shining white like marble: Pieta without Mary. Perhaps if she had been there, she could've warned him. Perhaps.

Home. Another thing they had shared. Another raw wound. The thought of going there terrified her almost as much as never going home again. Where else to go, though? Not her mother's, with all the women standing around like hens, trying to make things better but only pulling at the stitches. Not to her father's, where all the men would be drinking and trying to pretend they didn't care.

schatze,” said the wind, “please.”

It was unmistakable. She turned, and warmth blossomed around her. It wasn't possible, but she was cold enough to believe anything. The strings of her heart, pulled so taut, snapped. It was more than she could take. She took a deep breath, and steadied herself. There had been so little time, and they had used it poorly.

“Goodbye,” she said.

The wind slackened and died away but the warmth did not leave her. She smiled through her tears, then she went home.





[654 words]

winter air

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk

ceaselessfuture posted:

I find these assignments difficult, not for the prompts themselves, but the word count. I'm used to working on stories that go for around 3-5k words, giving me the time and space I need to flesh things out, so it's a very interesting and challenging experience for me to write things that are less than half of what I'm used to.

But I feel like it's focusing me on fundamentals that I need more work on anyway, so thanks, Thunderdome! I'm already stoked for next week.

Shut up: no-one cares.*








* seriously like not even one person

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Grimey Drawer

sebmojo posted:

Shut up: no-one cares.*

* seriously like not even one person

speak for yourself, I care a lot*





*no i don't, i was lying

kurona_bright
Mar 21, 2013


Thanks for the line-by-line, Obliterati!

The Long-awaited Exhale (1197 words)

Surprisingly, Morgan's prodding of the fire did not result in an explosion of sparks. She glared at the sullen glow of the embers, and wrapped her coat tighter around herself. Seth should be waking up any moment now.

Huffing out a breath of mist, she looked up at the stars. The vernal equinox had been only last week, so it would be a little longer before the weather warmed. The chill only made it all the more baffling that her brother had apparently decided to travel this far from the village – and with only a handful of the proper supplies, to boot.

She heard rustling from the tent behind her, and she gritted her teeth.

"Morgan?"

Seth's voice had gotten deeper after a year. But it still held that familiar note of grogginess – the one that said he napped too long.

"Did you put on all the clothes I left out for you?" she asked. Not a perfect fit, but they'd at least be dry and clean.

"Yes, I did. Morgan, I– "

"Eat first." She picked up the bowl she had left by the fire and held it out behind her. This sudden determination to avoid any serious conversation would be funny if it weren't so sad. For heaven's sake, he was her brother! They had both giggled over the same stories, memorized the same songs…

He took the bowl from her and sat down next to her. He opened his mouth to speak, but upon seeing her expression, silently began eating.

As he ate, Morgan studied his face. Changes had been made since she left – he was a little taller, a little broader, and his eyes had lost that unfocused look.

When he finished eating, Morgan cut him off before he could speak. "What are you doing here? How did you know I'd be here?"

He grinned crookedly. "Those are the first things you ask?"

After a chilly silence, the smirk slipped off and he relented. "The village elders want you to come back. And everybody knows that you and another man stopped by here last spring, so they told me to come here." He looked around. "Where is he?"

"None of your business." Walker had taken ill, so he wasn't able to come. But that wasn't important. "What do you mean, the village elders want me back?"

"Exactly what I said. The village elders extend a formal invitation to you to return and receive your inheritance."

Morgan's breath caught. She said, "So Father's dead than?"

Seth nodded. "He passed away this winter, in one of the clinic beds."

***
The cool evening air brushed against Seth's face as he studied his sister. She still broadcasted her state of mind with every twitch she made, and every breath she took. The outside world hadn't changed that, apparently. But at the moment, she seemed lost in thought, and eerie in her lack of grief. "You don't seem upset."

Morgan stared at him for a little longer. When she spoke, her voice was stiff. "Why would in the world would I be?"

At Seth's silence, she went on. "He told everyone about my 'curse' and made living in the village impossible. He – "

Seth interrupted. "What do you mean impossible? The treatment of people like you -" he gestured vaguely in her direction, noting her darkening glare, "is a lot better! Don't you remember what happened to that woman – "

"Lethe." The fire flickered in a sudden breeze.

"– Yes, her! The village elders – "

"– had her burned alive– "

"– but with the new laws, you didn't have to worry about that! That's better, right?" Seth noted that his voice had gone up a complete octave.

"So what?" A gust of wind knocked him onto his behind, and Morgan closed in on him.

"Were you really that oblivious to the whispers behind my back? To the fact that all of my friends stopped being my friends?"

"Well, I– "

"What do you think it feels like, to be called a freak by the rest of the village, to be prevented from using something as natural as breathing? To be deemed so unnatural that you can't even kiss someone, let alone marry them, because of some senile fart's superstition about bloodlines and magic?"

Seth opened his mouth again, but she had turned away. her voice suddenly quiet and the air still. "I'm not reliving this argument. But I can guess your response: something about Taollan and the many misfortunes Virale tested him with."

"Uh– "

"And then you'll say that Virale is testing me as well, that I am the modern-day Taollan, and he gave me the wonderful burden of resisting the temptation of being who I was born as!"

At these last words, Morgan whipped around again. Seth swore her voice rumbled like thunder.

"Don't you remember? That very night you told Father, I stopped you from committing what your precious Chronicles say is the ultimate sin. I took the knife from your hand, and the anguish from your mind – and what did you repay me with?"

Seth finally found his feet. Meeting Morgan's furious eyes, he said, "I don't know what you're talking about."

Her face unfroze, and confusion sneaked in. "What?"

Seth continued, "All I remember about the night before everyone found out is – is taking the razor from its box, and then waking up in my bed the next morning. I thought I had been dreaming."

He tried to meet her eyes, but Morgan turned her head away. "Was I really going to do… that?"

She nodded. When she spoke again, breaking the long silence, her voice was soft. "Maybe that was my fault."

"What?"

"What I tried doing that night was generally too difficult for someone untrained like me. I might have erased your mind for that night – or for much longer." She sat down by the campfire again. Her shoulders started to shake, and she laughed bitterly, tears rolling down her cheeks. "And here I was, thinking I was a magical prodigy."

Seth spoke quietly. "Hey, I'm okay. And alive, thanks to you."

He gingerly approached her, and at her gesture, sat down next to her. Then she grabbed him and wiped her tears and snot off onto his shoulder, laughing at his grimace of disgust. "Sorry for erasing your mind for a night."

Seth tried on a shaky grin. "Sorry for all of what I said earlier. And being a clueless moron."

Morgan smiled at him, and said. "You can stay for the night, and then you can give my response back to the elders. "

"Uh, about that…"

"Yeah?" Morgan was looking at him suspiciously. She always did catch onto to him quickly.

"I lied about the village elders." Seth said in a small voice.

Morgan sighed. "Why am I not surprised?"

"Sorry."

"I'll be angry later. So what's the real reason, then?"

"I was expelled for gross immorality with another man." Seth said, as quickly as possible.

After a brief silence, Morgan finally clapped him on the shoulder. "No problem, then! I know someone you should meet."

Seth gawked at her. She grinned back. "At least now I know why all my matchmaking attempts back then failed."

Seth groaned.

Walamor
Dec 31, 2006

Fork 'em Devils!


The Ancient Fire - 1199 Words

The silence was so complete that every snow-crunching step they took was almost deafening. It felt sacrilegious, making so much sound in this town turned tomb. The interiors of the homes were exposed, the wooden walls torn down in one last futile bid to stay warm. The inhabitants were curled around each other or lay prostrate before small altars, frozen in their final moments. Even though they had been dead for days, the cold kept them looking as if they were about to come to life any moment. Ezio shivered and tugged his jacket closer around himself.

His companion snorted and shook his head. “I can’t believe it. An entire town gone heretic. Well, they got what they deserved.” The man sounded almost smug.

“We don’t know that yet, Adept Thompson,” said Ezio, turning a stern glare on the younger man.

“Of course,” said the adept. “But what else could extinguish the goddess’ love?”

Ezio shook his head. “If you persist in making assumptions, you will miss out on much.” He trudged back towards the group of tents and people on the outskirts of town. He stepped inside the main tent and nodded to the woman sitting behind a small desk, papers scattering from the wind he let in.

“Vicar Longino,” said the woman, failing to hold back a slight edge in her voice as she tried to slam a paperweight down on the stack of papers. “What did you find out?”

“It looks like the reports were right, captain. The fires have gone out completely. The people tore down their homes to keep warm, but that isn’t enough to handle a cold snap. They froze,” said Ezio.

“What, all of them?” said the woman. “Do you think it was heresy?”

“Yes, all of them,” said Ezio. “And I don’t think so; even I couldn’t relight any of them. Something else is wrong here. We need to figure out what that is.”

“Of course, vicar,” said the captain, her voice tight. “And how long do you think it will be? These tents are fine for now, but our heaters are limited. If we get caught in a couple cold snaps...”

Ezio smiled and waved away her concerns. “Just for the night. Adept Thompson and myself have to go back, but your people will be fine here.”

The captain nodded her thanks and the two men stepped back out into the cold.

“She didn’t even offer to send anyone with us,” said Thompson as they walked out of the camp.

“Would you have, if you were her?” said Ezio.

“Of course. Protecting the Order is of paramount importance,” said Thompson.

“Keeping her people alive is what is important to her,” said Ezio. “And she has no idea where we’re going, without a tent, without a heater.”

Thompson fell silent for a few minutes. “Vicar, where are we going?” he finally asked.

“You’ll see soon enough. It’s a bit early to show you, but I might need help,” said Ezio.

An hour later, the two came to the bottom of a small cliff and Ezio stopped at the rock face, brushing his hand over the surface. His hand found the right crevice and he pulled gently. A section of rock wall easily swung out and Ezio turned to Thompson to enjoy his adept’s dumbfounded expression.

“What the…?” said Thompson, curiosity warring with fear as he peered down into the darkness.

Ezio entered the opening, grabbed a long cylinder hanging from the wall, and flicked it on with his thumb. A long beam of light came from one side and Ezio played it over the sleek, smooth walls of the tunnel. He grabbed another and tossed it to Thompson, who figured out how to use it after a second.

“Come on, adept. Keep your eyes open, you need to learn how to do this yourself,” said Ezio as he started down the tunnel. Thompson entered more timidly, looking nervously around at the featureless grey walls. Ezio often stopped and pointed out markings on the walls, telling Thompson that they were signs. Thompson dutifully wrote them down, but they meant nothing to him, just some scribble of a dead language.

Ezio had to take a couple detours due to damage caused by untold years of neglect, but was able to find his way to his destination. He stopped short and turned to Thompson.

“I have brought you here, as my master brought me, as his did, and so on as far back as our order goes,” said Ezio. “All the way back to Victoria.”

The excitement in Thompson’s eyes turned to confusion. “Victoria appeared to the first vicar, here?” said Thompson.

“No, adept. Victoria brought him here, showed him how this place works. This is the source of the fire that powers every heater and lights every home in the entire nation,” said Ezio. He held out a hand to stall Thompson’s questions which were starting to spilling out of the man’s mouth. “She saw our people’s plight and knew she could help us. No, she’s not a goddess, but she is a saint.”

“This can’t be right! The fire is her love!” said Thompson.

“It is her love, but just in a way people can understand. I don’t have time to answer all of your questions right now, but I’ll answer them all on the way back, I promise,” said Ezio.

He opened the door that led to a small chamber filled with tall boxes, each of them full of dials and meters. He walked over to them and cursed. Every single one of them had their arrows pointing all the way to the left, well into a red zone painted on the indicator.

“What’s wrong?” said Thompson, eyeing the boxes.

“She said it was going to happen eventually… but it’s too soon. We had another 100 years to prepare, at least!” said Ezio, staring at the dials.

“What?” said Thompson.

“I was here not 40 years ago, and it wasn’t even close to this! What happened?” Ezio slammed his fist on the closest box.

“Vicar!” said Thompson, alarmed. “What is it?”

“We’re out!” said Ezio, spinning to turn to the adept. “We’re completely out!”

The adept’s expression changed to horror.

“No heat, no power, anywhere,” said Ezio.

“But, there’s another two years in this winter cycle. The cold snaps--” said Thompson.

“Will kill everyone, yes,” said Ezio.

“Maybe it’s just here? The capitol had power and heat when we left.” said Thompson.

“The bigger cities had reserves built under them, to handle the demand. By now, it’s gone,” said Ezio.

“But what do we do,” said Thompson. “We have to be able to do something!”

Ezio thought for a moment before shaking his head. “Go back up and tell them to pray for the goddess’ love. Maybe that will bring them some final comfort.”

Thompson stared hard at the back of Ezio’s head before tears clouded his vision and he had to angrily wipe them away. The adept turned and headed back to the dead and soon to be dead on the surface, while Ezio stayed below, slumped under a sign he couldn't read labeled “National Natural Gas Reserves Control Room”.

Your Sledgehammer
May 10, 2010

Don`t fall asleep, you gotta write for THUNDERDOME

En Garde
1200 words (Prompt: autumn water)

The metal detector lay nearly forgotten in the cool sand as Sharon dug for her prize. She made quick work with the spade, her fervor so intense that a passing runner stopped to ask if she needed any help. She’d learned to expect such reactions. Her excitement about these things was never easily contained, and Sharon had given up trying.

It was an autumn day very much like this one, thirty years ago, when Sharon first discovered her unique ability. She’d just come in from this very beach, panting and redfaced but cold, and her mother told her to hang her jacket up in the closet near the entryway. In her hurry to get to the most critical endeavor of her Saturday morning, a Tom and Jerry binge, she threw her jacket over the hanger only to hear it crash to the floor as she closed the door. She opened the door, bent down to gather up the crumpled jacket, and that’s when she saw it.

A dull glint from the dark corner of the closet, behind the shoe rack. She pushed past the rack and her eyes grew wide. A rusty fencer’s sabre, made radiant and triumphant by her kid brain, stood perched against the back wall of the closet, as if the person who put it there wanted it to be forgotten. She reached for it, and when her hand touched the metal, it happened.

Hairs stood up on her neck and arms, and a shimmering warmth spread its fingers from her chest across every inch of her skin. A metallic smell tinged the air around her and a buzzing whine grew louder and louder in each ear until the sound merged with her vision and everything went black. Terrified, Sharon opened her eyes.

A bolt of pure white light crashed across her field of vision, threatening to strike her, only to be met by another line of white. The blades danced and whirled, parry after furious parry, and she was surprised to see that her hand – a man’s hand, no less – was in control of one of the blades. The tip of her blade skittered across her opponent’s white jacket, giving rise to an insistent beeping that merged into her vision and slowly dissolved the scene in front of her eyes.

She was back in the closet. She could feel the familiar wheeze of asthma in her throat and she fought to get it under control. She knew what she’d just experienced was magic, and like any ten-year-old, she knew the first rule of magical experiences was that you didn’t tell adults about them, because they wouldn’t believe you. “Sharon, are you OK?” her mother called out. A quiet living room where a child should have been equaled a steady rise in cortisol for any parent.

Sharon strolled into the kitchen with the heavy fencing sword held awkwardly out in front of her, and her mother was so aghast that she dropped the book she was reading. “Put that back right now, young lady!” she insisted. “But Momma, what is it?” Rhonda ushered her daughter back to the closet with the sword in tow as she explained. “Your goofy father went through a little fencing phase right before the accident,” Rhonda said, her words dripping with adoration.

Sharon’s father, Jack, died before she was born, and all she knew of him came from her mother’s words. Her intense belief that her father was a hero, a knight in shining armor, was buttressed by her mother’s stories, always full of fervent and painful love for the man. This sword was just the cherry on top for Sharon. She stole a quick glance at the picture of him that her mother had made the centerpiece of a wall near the entryway as she made her way to the warm embrace of the TV.

From that day forward, every piece of metal that had a strong memory attached to it produced an overwhelming hallucination in Sharon if she touched it. She always saw something the last person to touch it had seen, and always in a first person perspective. It had to be something special that was associated with a strong memory; keys and kitchen knives wouldn’t cut it. Sharon could count daring bank heists and gun battles from the second World War as among her firsthand experiences. When Rhonda had gotten sick and required Sharon’s care, the first thing Sharon had bought upon returning to her oceanside childhood home had been a metal detector.

Sharon let the memory of that first glorious hallucination wash over her as she dug into the damp sand. The waves threatened to wash over her digging hole and the cold October air closed her lungs until her breath came out in a painful whistle. She had to be close.

One more spadeful of sand and there it was. A diamond ring, its luster dulled by time, sat in a puddle at the bottom of the hole. Sharon knew instantly that this one would be a doozy. She eagerly snatched it and slipped it on her finger.

Hairs pulled up off her arm by some invisible force. A wave of heat across her skin. That familiar fluttering feeling in her chest. A wave roared and crashed against the sand, and the sound forced her into the vision.

A circle of men in fencing uniforms, beer bottles clinking together in celebration. Sharon was in a men’s locker room. “We’ve got an Olympian in our midst!” one man roared as he clapped another on the back, and the whole circle broke into a cheer. Sharon realized with a start that the man being celebrated was her father.

She stepped closer to Jack, and a woman’s hand with a sparkling diamond ring on it reached up to grab him by the shoulder. Jack turned and his smile widened just a touch too little. “I did it, babe!” Jack slurred as the woman hugged him. “The trip to the Games can be part of our honeymoon!” The voice reverberated in Sharon’s ears – the voice of her mother, softened by youth.

Jack’s smile melted away. He lead Rhonda away from the group as the fencers razzed him about needing some private time with his woman. When the two of them were finally alone, Jack sighed. “You know, I never really saw this opportunity coming, especially when we were in college, and…” Jack grew quiet. “What is it, honey?” Rhonda prompted, her voice awash in worry. “I guess what I’m saying is that things have changed, and tonight just settles it for me.”

The scene melted away and was replaced by a familiar beach at night, blurred through tears. A hand hurled the ring skyward, and Sharon watched as it arced into a boiling ocean.


Sharon blinked, and it was morning again on the beach. She felt the blood slowly drain out of her face as she tried to remember to breathe. She took the ring off, and as the first bitter tears fell, she flung it out to sea, where she hoped it would stay.

blue squares
Sep 28, 2007


Soiled Meat

.

blue squares fucked around with this message at Nov 10, 2014 around 05:02

Phobia
Apr 25, 2011

I'm a suave detective with a heart of gold in hot pursuit of the malevolent, manipulative
MIAMI MUTILATOR
and the deranged degenerates who only want their
15 MINUTES OF FAME.


OCK.


As the Ice Turns to Rain, I Think of Him Still - Winter, Water
282 Words

The rain turned to ice. The Winter Dance was next week. He was seventeen; I was eighteen. I wrote a letter on Sunday; slipped it in his locker on Friday. I waited for him by the forest behind the school. My breath fogged up my glasses and I rubbed them clean. So hard that my lens almost popped out. He came soon after, wearing his leather jacket overtop that Misfits shirt with the face. We sat in silence. No one was watching, or so it appeared.

I thinned my chapped mouth. He smiled, lips smooth. I preened my hair over my shoulder. He raked his spiked hair back. I chuckled and looked away. He rubbed his neck and looked away.

He knew my name; I, his but little else. Realizing that, I felt a harsh chill. My voice cracked when I asked. He blinked. The snow cycloned behind him and I caught the heat in his cheeks. My body froze. I readied a response, an apology. Then he smiled and told me yes.

I blinked. He fancied me, he said, my words, not his. Said he wasn't sure so he didn't push it. He went to continue, but I clutched his jacket before he could. The snow crunched beneath my feet. I dipped. Our lips were wet; his, mine; soft, bright. He laughed when the ice broke. He asked me why. So close to melting, I told him I didn't know. I told him it was nice, he was nice, and that I wanted to get to know him. He smiled and nodded and said we'd have all the time in the world.

He drowned that summer.

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

Submissions for Week CXVIII: If on a Winter's Night a Fire are now CLOSED!

Amazingly enough, only three of you dissolved into chaos: Gau, ThirdEmperor, and Chichevache, who assures us he'll turn in a story within the day. We shall see. All seven individuals who declared a won free of that doom; whether their reward shall be glory or shame remains to be discovered.

Congratulations on the highest turnout since June, everyone! So many stories will take the judges some time to review. Your patience is not expected, but it is required nonetheless.

blue squares
Sep 28, 2007


Soiled Meat

Does someone usually post a new prompt despite the lengthy review time? I need to get my hour minimum in tomorrow and if there's no prompt I'll have to work on my novel and for some reason that is terrifying.

J.A.B.C.
Jul 2, 2007

There's no need to rush to be an adult.


Now, the waiting game. Honestly, sort of excited here.

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

blue squares posted:

Does someone usually post a new prompt despite the lengthy review time? I need to get my hour minimum in tomorrow and if there's no prompt I'll have to work on my novel and for some reason that is terrifying.

The new prompt belongs to the winner of this week. It won't be posted until results are out, which is likely to be on Monday evening or Tuesday afternoon US time. Someone may or may not post an informal interprompt in the meanwhile.

Tyrannosaurus
Apr 12, 2006

I failed to submit because I was so excited about New Zealander Tim Price winning the Burghley Horse Trials on the quirky but freakishly talented Ringwood Sky Boy

Interprompt
Word count: 200. Topic: that time they caught you slipping.

Go.

Mercedes
Mar 7, 2006

"So you Jesus?"

"And you black?"

"Nigga prove it!"

And so Black Jesus turned water into a bucket of chicken. And He saw that it was good.


They See Me

They see me rolling.

They're usually up in arms and in a huff about me.

They're in their cars, driving up and down the street keeping an eye on me. Trying to catch me.

But only one has caught me. She was close to my heart. I let her in. And she caught me. I was in the kitchen with a bottle of oil. Sliding dirty.

Chairchucker
Nov 14, 2006

The man was stunningly well dressed. He had a smart looking jacket, and a really neat looking cape, the lining of which was shimmering and sparkling in more than Oriental splendour, which is a great deal of splendour indeed, just ask Kipling.

sebmojo posted:

Shut up: no-one cares.*


* seriously like not even one person

I care, I think it's cool, and this complaining about any off topic chat is the worst, eat a butt Mojo.

blue squares
Sep 28, 2007


Soiled Meat

Tyrannosaurus posted:

Interprompt
Word count: 200. Topic: that time they caught you slipping.

Go.

I thought I'd done everything right. I'd peed all over my own shirt and I'd smuggled in a thick rod of wood in my rear end in a top hat. But when I thought back to Shanghai Noon and tried to copy Jackie Chan's jail-cell bar-bending technique, I only made it wide enough to slip halfway through. Then they caught me.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

Give me a rifle, one round, and point me at Berlin!


Achtung Legionäre

An APC trudged into view, a red wireframe in a green wireframe landscape. Many times before, it was all Klaus needed to turn it into a burning wreck. Firing would take more time than making the decision. But this time, he faltered.

It was one thing to mow down Red Wave clones rolling over the Baltics, but ChiCom still drew troops from natural born citizens. An APC had a squad of soldiers, well drilled and instilled with the sense of duty and comradery, ready to use best weapons China could provide in a combined arms battle. All twelve of them ready to do their best.

Unfortunately, they had no chance against an EuroNippon Legionnaire. Fighting for a continent too self absorbed to grow a new generation or fight and an island too old to recover, a young man was a precious resource. So precious that the best engineers worked on overloading his reactions and strapping him into armor that was almost magical. One was worth a hundred ChiCom troops – and he had to be.

Klaus did indeed pull the trigger and coms sparked to life

“One and a half second? You’re slipping, man”.

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010

I got it wrong. Look, I'm well aware I got it wrong and uh, I got it wrong.


I have a steam powered sword

Zounds! It was the only appropriate word. I had fallen into a dastardly trap, set by my nemesis, a one Basil Alexander Eustace: a gentleman of most fiendish intellect. He had set oil upon the deck of my ship, and in stepping on it, I had fallen upon my rear end. As I lay immobile, Eustace approached.

"My dear fellow," he said, "I seem to have the upper hand."

Using my steam boots, I steam-jumped up and broke his loving nose. He ran away crying, and I won the day, but I will never forget the time that BAE caught me slipping.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk

Chairchucker posted:

I care, I think it's cool, and this complaining about any off topic chat is the worst, eat a butt Mojo.

I cannot for you have consumed all of the butts already

i will die in a ditch over cute little writer talk in the dome. FA is the place for that. Here, you poo poo post, crit, or write.

ceaselessfuture
Apr 9, 2005

"I'm thirty," I said. "I'm five years too old to lie to myself and call it honor."


sebmojo posted:

i will die in a ditch over cute little writer talk in the dome. FA is the place for that. Here, you poo poo post, crit, or write.

Gotcha.

J.A.B.C.
Jul 2, 2007

There's no need to rush to be an adult.


Tyrannosaurus posted:

Interprompt
Word count: 200. Topic: that time they caught you slipping.

Go.

gently caress YOU, ICE!!
199 words.

It was about the fourth time I fell on my rear end, with a little Korean girl and her mother skating past me with those knowing eyes, trying their best not to laugh or chide, that I finally decided to stop trying to ice-skate.

"Come on!" One of the guys from outside the rink shouted, seeing me waddle towards the gate, feet perched on top of thick metal blades, each step digging into the ice that someone spent hours finishing. I was stepping on someone's masterpiece with machete shoes.

"Don't be a pussy, man!" Another one called, my hands grasping at the wall, pulling myself towards the gate outwards. Just let it be, I told myself.

It took me far too long to reach the exit, knees quaking under the effort to stay upright. I finally made it out. I just had to open the door.

"It's easy, man." One of them said.

"If it's so loving easy, you try it!" I snapped, flipping him off with a bit too much vigor. My hands left the wall.

And that was the fifth time I landed on my rear end. And that little Korean girl and her mom just skated by silently.

Schneider Heim
Oct 17, 2012


It was too flimsy, after all

I thought I've been a good adult: I paid the bills, washed my own laundry, cooked my own meals, generally without freaking out like I used to in my teens.

I mean, that's what got my boyfriend attracted to me in the first place. I had my poo poo together. I thought I did, too.

So when the original Veiled Driver died, my tears bombed my cornflakes like V-2 rockets. He watched me, in a kind of pained, empathic grimace, as my adult self slipped and I put on my true face.

Some Guy TT
Aug 30, 2011


Kaishai posted:

The new prompt belongs to the winner of this week. It won't be posted until results are out, which is likely to be on Monday evening or Tuesday afternoon US time. Someone may or may not post an informal interprompt in the meanwhile.

I'd just like to note- for next year's OP, can this be explicitly written down somewhere? It's weird that we're expected to figure that out through induction.

Also put in a note about not prefacing stories since every few weeks somebody does that and the regulars have to yell at them.

Cache Cab
Feb 21, 2014


I concur, I was very confused about how prompts are doled out. For a while I thought it was the person who lost, in a sort of "have their cake and eat it too" scenario, because then he (or she, not to be a sexist), would get to read stories that they could enjoy, and ultimately learn from them. But I was quickly corrected by the more helpful members of this community.

Please add it to the OP so others don't embarrass themselves.

thehomemaster
Jul 16, 2014

by Ralp


To be honest both those points are abundantly clear with even a cursory glance over the thread. That said I still prefaced my first entry, but as writers we always want to frame everything so our fragile egos aren't torn asunder.

I say don't add it to the OP.

Show, don't tell.

thehomemaster fucked around with this message at Nov 11, 2014 around 01:20

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013



whoever makes the OP makes the rules

Tyrannosaurus
Apr 12, 2006

I failed to submit because I was so excited about New Zealander Tim Price winning the Burghley Horse Trials on the quirky but freakishly talented Ringwood Sky Boy

Sitting Here posted:

but so okay that sounds cool, how do i participate

Each week, the previous week’s winner delivers a prompt, along with a word count, a deadline for signups, and a deadline for submissions. Your job is to read the prompt, sign up for the prompt, and then give your very best shot at writing a real nice story within the word limit and in time for the deadline.

It’s harder than it sounds.

Once the submission deadline passes, the winner/Boss Judge and their two chosen co-judges convene and decide the glorious victor, the pathetic failure, and any honorable/dishonorable mentions for the week.

Sitting Here posted:

Each week, the previous week’s winner delivers a prompt

Each week, the previous week’s winner delivers a prompt

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docbeard
Jul 18, 2011

High marks for compassion, low marks for survival skills





Pfft. Reading. Who does that for a writing contest?

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