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  • Locked thread
Cache Cab
Feb 21, 2014
Okay, I should be mad at myself for not writing well enough. I realize that. I apologize to the judges for taking my anger out on them. I did not waste my time on this one though. I knew my story last week wasn't good so I was reading a lot of literature. I'm busy most days but I had today off, so as soon as the prompt was posted I found a craiglist missed connection and spent most of the day writing this story based on it. I chose a different style to write in to force myself out of my comfort zone because I realized my story last week was too plodding, exposition heavy, and most importantly I based it too much on my own experiences. I will thank the judges this week for choosing a prompt that forced me to write from a different perspective. After I finished it I found a good gif and let the gif kind of change the way the protagonist acted. Again I'm sorry for my previous tone!


The Saddest Rhino
Apr 29, 2009

Put it all together.
Solve the world.
One conversation at a time.

Cache Cab posted:

Okay, I should be mad at myself for not writing well enough. I realize that. I apologize to the judges for taking my anger out on them. I did not waste my time on this one though. I knew my story last week wasn't good so I was reading a lot of literature. I'm busy most days but I had today off, so as soon as the prompt was posted I found a craiglist missed connection and spent most of the day writing this story based on it. I chose a different style to write in to force myself out of my comfort zone because I realized my story last week was too plodding, exposition heavy, and most importantly I based it too much on my own experiences. I will thank the judges this week for choosing a prompt that forced me to write from a different perspective. After I finished it I found a good gif and let the gif kind of change the way the protagonist acted. Again I'm sorry for my previous tone!


Jul 16, 2014

by Ralp
Ok, first time, let me know if I do anything wrong. Bummed I missed last week, was a good theme.

Missed Connection

Because I love stories about reading. And I often read at central.

Red Kindle at Central station - m4w (Sydney/ central station)


I was reading a red kindle... you walked up and spoke to me... I was so overcome by your stunning looks I stammered and faltered in conversation... I let you go without finding out you number... I'd love to continue / see you again.... subject me the book genre we talked about ( so I know its you )... I'll be impressed if you remember the book i was reading! I still wait same station same time to find you again !

Promised I would use the latest cute animal gif from another forum I frequent.

Is that all I have to do? And write the story by the end of the weekend, of course.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007

Cache Cab posted:

Okay, I should be mad at myself for not writing well enough. I realize that. I apologize to the judges for taking my anger out on them. I did not waste my time on this one though. I knew my story last week wasn't good so I was reading a lot of literature. I'm busy most days but I had today off, so as soon as the prompt was posted I found a craiglist missed connection and spent most of the day writing this story based on it. I chose a different style to write in to force myself out of my comfort zone because I realized my story last week was too plodding, exposition heavy, and most importantly I based it too much on my own experiences. I will thank the judges this week for choosing a prompt that forced me to write from a different perspective. After I finished it I found a good gif and let the gif kind of change the way the protagonist acted. Again I'm sorry for my previous tone!

Are you okay

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

Sitting Here posted:

Are you okay


Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

thehomemaster posted:

Ok, first time, let me know if I do anything wrong. Bummed I missed last week, was a good theme.

Missed Connection

Because I love stories about reading. And I often read at central.

Red Kindle at Central station - m4w (Sydney/ central station)

Promised I would use the latest cute animal gif from another forum I frequent.

Is that all I have to do? And write the story by the end of the weekend, of course.

ftfy, 2

Nov 14, 2006

to ride eternal, shiny and chrome


This prompt makes no sense and is dumb, but on the other hand check out this little critter being awesome.

And this is a pretty fun ad.


Pleasant lady at the bus stop today - m4w (long jetty)
Hi, we were chatting at the bus stop outside coles at The Entrance this morning. I offered you a lift. You politely declined. Please get in touch.

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.

Guy I jacked with - m4m
Looking for the nice guy i met on here a couple weeks ago.
We met in a public place, then went to a private place you had.
I was just going to watch you...but you were really hot. We stood there
Jacking off and you took your shirt off so I could play with your chest.
We emailed a couple times after but haven't heard from you. I'd like to
Meet up again. Get back to me man. Please.

Lily Catts
Oct 17, 2012

Show me the way to you
(Heavy Metal)
:siren: Week CXIII crits for December Octopedes, Jitzu_the_Monk, Helsing, satsui_no_thankyou, Hammer Bro., jagermonster, LOU BEGAS MUSTACHE, starr, ZeBourgeoisie, theblunderbuss, and docbeard :siren:

See, this was a good week, in the sense that the good entries were really good, and outweighed most of the bad ones. (Un)Fortunately, I don't forget the bad ones, not until I've written a crit for them, because I'm a judge. Bleh. So for the people who DMed or lost this week, I hope you learn from these crits. Because you'll be subjected to the same thing if, IF you ever judge in the future.

I've noticed some trends this week, too. A lot of stories were about spaceships. Some of them were good, so if you wrote a spaceship story, try to read the others and see how they worked. Maybe you could learn something. Leverage Thunderdome stories and critiques for a more synergistic approach in your storywriting process.

Some stories were about male protagonists getting mad at women for lying to them, which is a little baffling to me. I'll let that sink in for you guys. I hope you're not writing for ~catharsis~ or something.

December Octopodes - Sticky Candy
Virtue/vice: humility

The idea of a thieves' council that uses the possession of a small material object as membership is quite nice. The problem with this story is that it spends too much time with a device that you not-so-bluntly state your theme with. Your main character doesn't particularly care for it, so I don't either, so the effort is wasted. The other time-waster is the main character recalling the heist. It's clear that it isn't the point of the story, but you insist on making it important (when it's not).

This isn't incompetent, but you could've told a stronger story with your setting and characters. Ask yourself if the scenes you wrote here were effective in conveying the kind of story you wanted to tell.

Jitzu_the_Monk - Pride and the Quest to Subdue the Gahmgat
Virtue/vice: Being humble

Your title is pretentious. This poo poo is contrived. If you're going to invent a monster, at least make sure the reader understands what it is. Why did it mangle and burn its victims, but tear the main character's eyes out? Just so she could survive and state the moral of the story?

Why are they capturing the Gahmgat instead of killing it? Why couldn't it burn or rend its way out of the sack? Or does it have a specific weakness towards them? Am I putting more thought in your story than you ever did?

You got a virtue, but you chose to invert it. Don't try to be clever with the prompt; it's clear you can't pull it off. Learn to tell a straightforward, honest-to-goodness story first before you try out the flashy stuff.

Helsing - Something you don't want to hear
Virtue/vice: a startling lack of foresight

Bad. The story only starts when Casandra and Vincent start talking to each other. You could've clipped everything that came before. It's just too bland and boring. The world went to poo poo, yeah yeah. Not really important. It's the Soylent Green part that approaches something interesting, but you didn't capitalize on that.

This is one of a few stories that are basically "male protagonist is lied to by a woman and gets mad about it" and I am sooo not curious as to why.

satsui_no_thankyou - Untitled
Virtue/vice: protecting the weak

This was really confusing because you didn't do your blocking well. That is, I was in a state of perpetual confusion as to where your characters are standing in relation to one another. So what if Jude opened the sanctum door? You kinda ran out of words there. I almost laughed at the "Heyyyy, Jude" part. Your alien is a creepy mofo, at least.

Please, please come up with a title next time. It tells us how much you cared about your story. It's tough and often the title doesn't pop up until you're done and minutes away from submitting, but a good one will really make a story memorable. (see: Rural Rentboys) Work on your proofreading too, because this was really sloppy.

Hammer Bro. - Kelvin
Virtue/vice: wherein somewhere He sleeps, His bones grow cold with the passing of time, and an empty hearth

I keep reading your main character's name as Starchild Motherflocker. The flashbacks are loving jarring, you literally dump us in the past, changed names and all, then back to present. You need to warn your reader beforehand. Just a simple sentence would do.

Because you hosed that up, I wasn't able to care about Cat. I was too busy piecing your scenes until I got to the ending and went "huh?" Why is she crying? What is she doing? Eh, she got the surname mentioned earlier? What's the point of all this?

It's all a jumble in my brain now. I guess I'll forget it all in the next fifteen minutes, so to hell with that.

jagermonster - A Song for the Road
Virtue/vice: a jovial and easygoing affect

A fun, okay read. I like how you kept the suspense going--what's Gare going to do next? We know he's pretty capable, so how's he going to deal with these three goons? One thing, though. The story is a little crammed with four characters in the same scene. You work it to your favor as the goons keep making minute, not-so-subtle gestures, but I feel that this could be stronger if you cut one from the cast. But this story is written well enough for me to give it a pass. Bards are the best jerks.

LOU BEGAS MUSTACHE - The Blade Is Mightier Than the Pen
Virtue/vice - Strength through adversity

I'm confused about the Olquin. At first you used "it" to refer to one, then later you have a family of them doing human-like things. That said, this is really good. Normally I'd have balked at the plot ("Why didn't she realize the king was doing the opposite of what she wanted?"), but the laws of Kami's magic made sense. Internal consistency, people.

This only had three scenes, which made it tight. Things kept happening until the end (I quite liked how you lampshaded the king's trustworthiness with his teeth), and the ending was particularly chilling. Good work.

starr - An Honorable Man
Virtue/vice: rigidity

This story is a straight line with no twists and turns. First officer spends the rest of the story trying to convince his captain not to make the landing. He fails because he doesn't actually do anything, and they all die. The end.

You expect people to read that? You expect people to enjoy that? gently caress! Did you even care? You even tacked a "moral" in the ending--it's okay if they all died, at least the first officer didn't go against the captain's authority! How the gently caress could you interpret your vice in the blandest, most pedestrian way possible? gently caress!

See here, the biggest sin a story could make is being boring. A story could be offensively bad yet still be memorable, and still worthy of being talked about. We have plenty of stories like that here. This story isn't. Boring is your reader closing the tab before getting to the second paragraph. Boring is your reader trailing off, then blinking at the last full stop and exclaiming "that's it?"

Let your protagonist do something. Raise the stakes. Put him in danger. In this case, your first officer was put in an uncomfortable situation. Does he rise above it? Hell no. So he deserved that one.

ZeBourgeoisie - Red Eggs
Virtue/vice: all things in moderation

This story is disgusting. It's like Arnold kidnapped the Child from The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas. That said, it's actually good, and you pulled off the virtue/vice reversal well. Everyone else who tried that poo poo, read up and learn. This is more horror than fantasy, though.

theblunderbuss - It Always Ends Like This
Virtue/vice: bringing out the best in others

I really liked this story, even if Thrakk is only two letters from being a popular orc character in a popular video game series. Thrakk and the woman have this respect tempered by hatred, and it's quite heartbreaking, really. Even if the woman does die, Thrakk will never be the same again. It's a good, understated character arc. He felt something, and the sincerity of it made me feel, too, without the sappiness that often accompanies such things.

However, this isn't much of a fantasy story. You could replace Thrakk's race with any actual barbarian society and it would still fit. The orcs are just trappings. Hell, it could be dwarves vs elves, even. How can I weave the setting organically into the story that it couldn't be just swapped with another? Think about that one.

docbeard - Motivation
Virtue/vice: using fear to one's advantage

The other judges were lukewarm on this, but I liked it myself. You make Cherise believable, that she's broken and using fear as a crutch to go on. The prose is a little dry, but it works in emphasizing Cherise's bare mental state. You could've been a little more creative with more showing than telling, but you did well enough considering the word limit.

On another read the ending just clicked into place for me. I'm not depressed, but somehow the story made me understand a little of what it feels like. Wonderful.

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004


Saw you on Pratt Street - w4m
You were sitting on the steps in front of 500 E Pratt St just before noon today. We smiled and I couldn't help turning back to look at you. I was in a hurry and couldn't stop to talk like I wanted, or really get a good look at you. You probably got a better look at me. You had on a dark jacket and a gray beanie hat. I had on jeans and a black hoodie with a skeleton design--you would have seen ribs and a spine across my back.

I hope we'll meet again.

Aug 23, 2003

When the judges are posting their crits for last week would it be possible to include the score that you assigned to each story? As somebody right in the middle of the pack I'm interested to know whether all three judges came me middling scores or whether there are some variance (i.e. one judge scoring higher, the other lower, and the results balancing out in the middle).

Also thanks to Hammer Bro. for stepping up and doing extra crits even though he wasn't a judge this week, the additional feedback is always helpful.

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.

Mercedes posted:

:siren::siren::byodood: MERC-BRAWL III, THE MERCONING: Sup Partner :byodood::siren::siren:

Listen up, you snot bubbles. You got one more day to polish your poo poo up, i.e. start writing your stories. Because everyone knows you're a failure, even your mother knows. And we all know you haven't told your mom what you do in your free time.

Lily Catts
Oct 17, 2012

Show me the way to you
(Heavy Metal)

Helsing posted:

When the judges are posting their crits for last week would it be possible to include the score that you assigned to each story? As somebody right in the middle of the pack I'm interested to know whether all three judges came me middling scores or whether there are some variance (i.e. one judge scoring higher, the other lower, and the results balancing out in the middle).

Also thanks to Hammer Bro. for stepping up and doing extra crits even though he wasn't a judge this week, the additional feedback is always helpful.

I had scores on my judging file, but I copied them to a Notepad window and made changes before sending over to Muffin. Then I didn't save the file. I put you in the mid 20s, though, if that helps.

Mar 21, 2010
I wouldn't sweat it too much if you were somewhere near the middle of the pack. We all agonised over the specific order of the top and bottom, but the middle was a lot more loose.

For the record, my personal rankings are here.

Mar 21, 2010
Note: last week was really strong, and also had a very large number of entries. If you're hovering somewhere near the middle, odds are your story was good, it just wasn't good enough to pull ahead of a week like that. In a shittier week, I could see anybody down to about DocBeard there winning. That's the thing about Thunderdome: you're not playing alone, you're playing against a field. Don't feel bad if you ended up lower than you expected, because odds are you still wrote a pretty good story.

Hell, even Cache Cab didn't write as badly as I was expecting. The story showed real marks of improvement from previous entries and I was a little disappointed to hand it the loss, but that's the way the numbers came up. I mean I still didn't really like it, but it shows a real development and awareness of criticism, which is cool and a sign that Cache may end up being one of the writers I actually really like, given enough time.

Mar 21, 2010


JITZU THE MONK: Pride and the Quest to Subdue the Gahmgat
#30, my personal loser

I got a terrible chill right from the beginning, when people were referred to by their DnD class. The immediate Warhammer reference following that up did not help at all. The whole thing felt like a writeup of somebody's bad DnD campaign, right down to the poorly-described monsters and the random CAN'T THINK OF AN ENDING OK VIOLENCE finisher.

Everybody talks like a terrible nerd who thinks he's being classy and probably thinks his fedora makes him look like Don Draper. You need to cut the overly-fancy dialogue, cut the terrible 'funny' descriptions and just go back to basics. Comic fantasy is really hard: there's a reason the list of successful authors consists of Terry Pratchett, Terry Pratchett and Terry Pratchett and the list of unsuccessful authors is half the fantasy writers on the internet. On top of that, you couldn't decide whether you wanted to be funny or gritty, and it just didn't work at all.

Overall, a horribly mishmash of themes and ideas that should've just been stripped back to basics. You're trying to juggle half a dozen balls here and all you end up is getting a whole load of balls right in your face.

Your Magic Card is:

Oh god maybe it could've been ok but then it just kept going piling on layers of crap until the mountain of crap collapses and crushes you to death


Holy editing Batman, please check your stuff for errors before you post it. This isn't the first time this has happened. Also, please choose a title. Titles are important. They provide a valuable anchor and entry-point for the reader.

How does this story cover the virtue at all? I allow a certain degree of leniency, but I've gotta see how you got there, you know? There was nobody weak, nor anybody doing any protecting, nor even a weird-dumb attempt to 'flip the script' that we saw a lot of this week. It was just confusing.

Pacing is scarier than the monster here: nothing interesting happens for 650 words, then a monster appears outta nowhere and murders everybody so quickly it barely registers. The 'Hey Jude' joke was super dumb. It would be creepy in real life, but it's painfully aware that you the writer just named the character Jude for the sake of a weird Beatles thing. Mateus spends 2/3 of the story being an annoying rear end in a top hat, who then turns into a psycho-killer for reasons that are really poorly explained. Why is he sacrificing himself to stop humans hanging around? It feels like humans and shapeshifters have a history but it's not hinted at enough (or even mentioned at all) elsewhere in the story.

Your Magic Card is:

Did anybody even bother to check this again later, or did they just vomit it out in 5 minutes then go "YUP DONE" and walk off to masturbate?


Spelling mistakes in the first paragraph will kill the mood for any reader, and especially any judge: it's intact, not in tact. Please spellcheck. There's some stuff that could slip through MSWord's checker, but some stuff is just obviously wrong and should've shown up in five seconds if you'd bothered to look: 'foreverI' and 'Hollywoood' are just embarrassing.

From what I've seen, your characters are all total assholes. rear end in a top hat characters can work, but we need something sympathetic there to hang onto. Your narrator is a cynical rear end in a top hat who leaves his wife alone to die. Yeah he takes the kids with him, but from the way he talks about them (i.e. he doesn't), it feels like he doesn't really give a poo poo about them and takes them because they're just sorta there.

Infodumps suck. The background of a story doesn't matter so much as the consequences of it: you waste a whole lot of words early on explaining the science. Other than that, the pacing is actually pretty solid. Good work there, I guess?

As far as stories go, you could've easily saved yourself from losing, if you'd just checked the drat thing for errors before you posted it (you were late anyway, what were five minutes later gonna do?) and you'd given the reader a little something more to like about the protagonist.

Your Magic Card is:

this would have the capacity to not-suck if somebody had checked it to make sure they knew exactly what they were putting on the page but lolnope completely ruined

SOME GUY TT: Missionary for Science

Man you sure showed that guy who writes XKCD. Internet atheists, amirite?

Yes neckbeard 'atheists' who worship Richard Dawkins are obnoxious, but I'm not sure they really needed a takedown and I'm not sure this in particular is the takedown they needed. The whole 'simple farming life is better than your SCIENCE and TECHNOLOGY' thing feels like it's been taken from a bad novel from the 17th century, not a bad short story from the 21st. It was obnoxious when Wordsworth did it, and it hasn't gotten sweeter with age.

Also, there's no real story here. Dude shows up, dude says "SCIENCE!" (except it's not science), everybody goes "eh" and then science dude leaves. There's no tension, there's no struggle, there's just a whole bunch of dudes standing around looking bored. How do you expect the reader to care about that?

Your Magic Card is:

oh my god this is so boring and it's been done a million times better a million times before a longass time ago

SurreptitiousMuffin fucked around with this message at 10:57 on Oct 8, 2014

Mar 21, 2010

STARR: an honourable man

Subtle as a kick to the balls, and somehow also totally missed the point. Nobody is that rigid: you're so over the top with it that it just becomes silly. It's also one of far too many "spaceship takes off and people talk for ages then everybody dies suddenly" stories. Why is this such a common thing this week? I dunno, but I know that I hate it.

GIVE YOUR CHARACTERS NAMES. I cannot say this enough. Not only is constantly saying "the first officer" clunky as hell, it cuts off an important humanising element for almost no reason. Combine it with his ridiculous rigidity and I'm imagining your protagonist as a literal robot. Do we care when robots get blown up?

No, we don't.

Also, cut back the $10 vocabulary. 5 syllable words are like garlic pesto: lovely in small doses, and a loving nightmare if you just slam them on with a firehose. Go away and read some Hemingway: he'll teach you a lot about using simple vocabulary in powerful ways, rather than using complex vocabulary in facile ones.

Your Magic Card is:

wtf how is this so overcomplicated but so boring and useless at the same time



I don't even know how to crit this. I'm just so confused. I don't understand at all. For the love of god, don't start a story with a bunch of vague bickery dialogue and have the only physical blocking be something nondescript that could describe almost anywhere. There's a seat and a window, yay. Oh a shuttle? Cool I haven't seen a spaceship taking off or landing this week. Protip: if you do something that absolutely everybody else is doing that week, the judges are probably gonna hate you even if your story isn't bad. Not that your story is good.

There's too much dialogue, and not enough explaining what the gently caress is even going on.

If an element is important to your story, don't leave it until the last paragraph. You weren't the only person to do that this week either, but it sucks every time no matter how often it shows up. The seed vault thing almost feels tacked on to fit the prompt. When writing a story, you should always ask yourself 'what do my characters want', 'what stops them from getting it' and 'how do they overcome that?' You seem to have that down, but what you miss is that it's just too easy for them so there's no tension or reason to care.

Your Magic Card is:

:confused: I think this might be okay but honestly I can't tell

KURONA_BRIGHT: a rose's supposed influence

why does everybody in this story speak in these long strings without contractions and with absolutely no rhythm to their speech in such a way that it does not at all feel like regular human speech but instead a robot that has been programmed to talk but not to speak as such if you get me.

I'll give you this: the setting is pretty interesting and you pull it off decently. It's the same old fantasy beats, but spun in ways that are different enough to keep me interested. You're not 100% practiced at telling the world through the characters' actions -it's wonky in parts- but you're definitely picking the skill up, and it's a very important one for writing in the genre.

A magical rune that makes a person want to gently caress you toes a little close to rape for me: fantasy reeeeeeeeeeaaally overuses rape for cheap drama, to the point where it can totally kill books for me. I'm not sure it's intentional on your part, but be careful there.

You know what really killed it for me? It's not a story about the rune being cast and its effects, it's a story after this has happened looking back and the whole time I was thinking "poo poo, can't we just have heard that story instead of a dry recap told in post?"

Your Magic Card is:

Looks promising, but the whole show happens far past the point where it was worth having. Everything's already finished by the time he gets there, so what's the point?

NOAH: in passing

It's weird, but it doesn't do anything with it. All setup, no punchline. There could've been a lot of strange energy from "trying to sell a haunted house that's haunted by your family," but it was just so flat. People bickered a lot. Very eh.

Your Magic Card is:

a weird letdown

MEEPLE: For Love

Talking talking talking talking talking talking spaceship takes off or lands. I feel like I say this every time I judge, but nothing kills a story faster than endless walls of dialogue loaded into the beginning. Dialogue needs context to work: we need to know who the characters are, and where they are, and why we should give a gently caress. You've got the 'where' down, but the other two are still all wobbly.

The ending (apart from being SPACESHIP) is actually pretty well written, but drat does it take us too long to get there.

Also Vassily is infuriating in the way he talks. I think he's supposed to come off erudite, but he's just annoying as poo poo. He sounds like the Literature Undergrad who backs you into a corner at a party. 'Aggressively aloof poet' is always going to be hateable. I guess he has a nice dynamic with Bill in that regard, but dialing it back would've gone a long way towards making BOTH characters pop more strongly. Characters don't need to be perfect, but they need to be a little more likable.

Your Magic Card is:

just look at this smug prick

Cache Cab
Feb 21, 2014
Thank you for the crit, sir

Apr 29, 2012

by XyloJW

sebmojo posted:


There is a door in the wall and a hole in the ground. Why is it that everyone wants to know what's through one, and noone wants to know what's in the other?

Give me 1000 words telling me why, High Noon PST 8 October. No extensions.

Vali the Brave

997 words

“I want to see what’s in there.” Vali the Bad tugged at his big brother’s sleeve.

Egill looked at the carved oak door and shook his head. “We’re not allowed.”

Vali pouted. “Gyđa goes in there all the time.”

“She’s a girl,” Egill said. “Only girls are allowed.”


“That’s where Mother’s handmaidens sleep. Boys aren’t allowed.”

Vali scrunched his face. “But Gyđa sleeps in our room.”

“She’s our sister.” Egill tipped his head to one side. “Mother said we aren’t allowed, so that’s it.”

Vali crossed his arms. “But we don’t even know why! All the boys in the longhouse want to get in, so it must be something good. I can sneak in.”

Egill mimed swinging a stick. “Red Astrid would beat you bloody.”

“Hmph.” Vali puffed out his chest. “I’m a warrior. Red Astrid is just a maiden.”

Egill shook his head. “She’s a shieldmaiden. Father could beat her in a fight, or maybe Brandr. But not you.”

Vali knew Astrid was bigger than him, but he felt brave enough. If he was thirteen like Egill, he’d definitely win. Egill had his own real sword and everything. Vali was only eleven, and was only allowed a wooden sword for practice. It wasn’t fair.

That afternoon, Vali and Egill rode their ponies up into the hills. Vali pointed at a big hole in the hillside. “What’s in there?”

Egill’s eyes went wide. “Stay away from there. We shouldn’t even be near that hole. I didn’t know we were so close.” Egill turned his pony to go back down the trail towards the holdfast.

Vali kept his pony still and stared at the hole. “I want to know what’s in there.”

“No you don’t,” Egill said over his shoulder. “Bad things down there. Now come along, or I’ll tell Father. He’ll have Brandr beat you bloody.”

Vali pouted, then turned his pony to follow Egill.

The next morning, Vali woke up before anyone else in the longhouse. He slid out of bed and left the room he shared with his two brothers and little sister.

He crept across the Great Hall to the kitchen. Even the cooks weren’t up yet. It was barely light outside, but enough came through the smoke-hole that Vali could make his way to the carved oak door on the other side of the kitchen. He remembered seeing a little crack in the wall near the door. But he didn’t tell Egill about it. Egill would tell on him. He was always good, and Vali was always bad. Mother said so all the time.

Vali took careful little steps, making no sound on the wooden floor. He peeked through the crack. Inside, Mother’s handmaidens were waking up. Red Astrid stood up and stretched. She didn’t have any clothes on! Vali stared at her big round bottom, big round bosoms, and big round muscles. He felt funny inside. Vali wasn’t sure if he liked it. Maybe the other boys were stupid for wanting to get in there.

Vali jerked away from the crack as he heard footsteps behind him. Old Brynja and young Inga walked into the kitchen to cook breakfast. Brynja saw Vali crouched near the door. She scowled, fists on hips.

“Vali the Bad! What are you doing by that door?”

“Nothing.” He smiled and blinked his eyes.

Brynja’s scowl didn’t go away. “Bad boy, you’d better get out of here before I tell your Mother. She’ll have Red Astrid beat you bloody!”

Vali frowned. He was tired of everyone threatening to beat him. He pushed past Brynja and ran back to his room.

Very quietly so as not to wake Brandr, Vali armed himself. Brandr’s iron cap sat cock-eyed on his head, his seax thrust through Vali’s belt. For Brandr, it was just a big knife, but for Vali it was like a sword. Brandr’s shield was too big, his spear and sword too long, so Vali left them beside his oldest brother’s bed. Outside, he found a broom. He broke the stick off to leave a jagged point. Armed like a warrior, Vali rode his pony up the trail to the hole.

The hole was very dark, even in the bright morning sun. Vali got off his pony and crept up to it. A bad smell came out of it. Like rotten eggs and burned venison. Vali breathed deep and gathered his courage. Then he walked into the hole. His eyes got used to the darkness, and he found himself creeping down a rough tunnel. After fifty steps, the tunnel got lighter. The smell was much worse.

Vali turned a corner and walked into a cave, almost as big as the Great Hall. Holes in the ceiling let in the sun. In the half-light, he saw the bad thing Egill didn’t want to know about. A dragon! Gray, scaly, twice as long as Vali was tall, but with short stubby legs. The dragon had a big long tail and little sharp teeth in its big mouth. Vali backed up against the rock wall as the dragon scrambled towards him, hissing. He held the broomstick out and held his breath in terror. Vali closed his eyes as the dragon lunged, mouth open…

...and impaled itself on his broom-spear. The dragon snapped and twitched. Then slid to the ground and lay still. Vali drew Brandr’s seax and hacked at its neck.

He heard a woman scream behind him. Not like when Gyđa saw a spider. A battle-scream. Vali turned. Red Astrid ran into the cave, big axe in hand, red braids swinging. Another dragon was right behind Vali, lunging to bite. Astrid swung her axe and chopped its head right off!

She grabbed Vali and hugged him to her bosom. “Luckily Egill told me where you would go.” She pulled back and looked into his eyes. “You almost got eaten!”

“But I killed a dragon!” Vali said.

Astrid slowly smiled. “So you did. From now on, you’ll be Vali the Brave.”

N. Senada
May 17, 2011

My kidneys are busted

Nov 15, 2012

What will you say when
your child asks:
why did you fail Thunderdome?

sebmojo posted:


There is a door in the wall and a hole in the ground. Why is it that everyone wants to know what's through one, and noone wants to know what's in the other?

Give me 1000 words telling me why, High Noon PST 8 October. No extensions.

994 words

Nobody who went down the hole ever came back.

Raine kept flipping his lucky coin, waiting for the inevitable. There hole in the middle of the cave was a gaping maw ready to swallow him whole. Many had disappeared down there screaming. Their echo was still there.

The door on the far end was closed. They’d tried everything. Cole, big burly guy, tried it right now. Tried it all the time. Never got it open.

There was a message above:

The last person inside can escape through this door.
The only other way out is the hole.

Someone reached a bowl of beans down to Raine. “Thanks,” Raine said, and Tommen smiled and went about his round distributing today’s lunch to the others. They were five now. They used to be thirty.

In a far-off corner, Dan and Sarah argued. Probably decided who was next. There’d be a point where what fragile order had kept them together would collapse like a house of cards, and he’d have a problem. He was friend to nobody. Nobody’s joker. That had saved him so far. But now it got dangerous.

Everyone goes down the hole sooner or later. No one comes back. That’s how it goes.

The beans looked fine. Raine flipped his coin. Only when the others had finished half their bowls, he started on his own.


Only one could survive and that was the cold, hard truth.

Only him.

Someone tapped Dan’s shoulder. He held up a hand without turning around. Tommen pulled him on his feet.

“Cole,” Dan whispered.

Tommen shrugged and together they snuck through the glimmer of their lighters, careful to avoid the hole in the dark.

Cole looked like a bear under his rising and falling brown blanket. Mostly gut. For a second, Daniel wasn’t sure if two were enough to drag that guy down the hole.

They tried anyway.

It wouldn’t have been like Cole to come quietly. They’d barely touched him and he started kicking and screaming.

“loving traitor pig,” he yelled as he was dragged across the stone floor. “gently caress you, you said we’d work things out.”

Did he really think they’d escape together or was he just pissed that Dan had crossed him first? He must have known only one of them could leave.

Tommen knew. It was in his eyes. It must have been in Dan’s too. They looked at each other as they held Cole at the edge of the hole, now pleading, crying.

“Please, I don’t want do--”

But he did.

It took a while until they stopped hearing the echo of his screams. Neither Raine nor Sarah moved.

“Tight sleepers,” Tommen whispered.

“Ain’t they all.”

They stood at the edge for many more moments, waiting to see if the other tried a move. Then they backed away slowly, each into their own corner, and pretended to sleep.


Apparently four was the threshold.

They all sat in different parts of the cave, everyone eyeing everyone else. Sarah was amazed they’d gotten down to this number before the cracks started to show in what little society they’d created.

And now they just waited for whoever turned into an animal first, waited, playing with their coins or flicking lighters open and shut and open and shut or leaning against their kettle and playing drums with their scoop and thighs, or humming melodies, like Sarah did.

Habit took them out of their misery when the first hungry stomach rumbled and Tommen got up. He prepared food at the kettle as he always did. Four bowls. He went on his usual tour around the cave, first exchanging words with Dan, and then with Raine, and then he came over to where Sarah sat.

“The others want to meet,” he said. “Argue things out.”

“What’s there to argue?” she said.

“Okay, maybe more like game.”

“What, are you going to play rock-paper-scissors about who dies now?”

“We’re flipping coins.”

“Coins.” She dipped her hand in beans and got herself a mouthful.

“Coins,” he said and went back to his kettle.


Tommen knew that the bulge in his sleeve wasn’t as big as it seemed to him. But it seemed huge, and he prayed nobody else noticed the rock he’d hidden there.

The others were nervous. Raine had always been jumpy, but Dan was sweating profusely and Sarah even seemed feverish.

“First it’s Dan vs Sarah,” Raine said. “Alright?”

“Alright,” Dan said.

“Sarah, the pick is--”

“Wait whoa whoa, why does she get to pick?”

“Ladies first?”

Sarah coughed. “Just pick one Dan. Nobody gives a poo poo.”

“Heads,” Dan said.

The coin seemed to hang in the air for an eternity. Silver, flat, glinting in the torchlights as if it winked at Tommen. He winked back. He wouldn’t leave through the hole. He would never leave through the hole.

He was a winner.


Dan had moved before Raine had finished speaking, but his punch was weak and he lost his balance halfway through. Tommen caught him, and shoved him down the hole.

And then Sarah puked her guts out and fell after him.

There were no screams.

“They shouldn’t have eaten the beans,” Raine said.

“No,” Tommen said.

“Are we doing this?”


Raine nodded. “You pick.”


When Raine tossed the coin, they both attacked simultaneously. Something buried into Tommen’s shoulder as his rock cracked against Raine’s skull and sent him flying down the hole.

No screams. Tommen listened to the silence. They were all gone.

He tore a broken scoop-handle covered in poison juice from his shoulder. He ignored the pain. gently caress it. He was a winner.

He turned towards the door. His shoulder stung as he lifted his arm. The handle turned. The door swung open. He stepped through.

He was inside a dark cave with twenty-nine people in it. He didn’t recognize any of them, but he did recognize the dark hole in the middle.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.
:siren: Root-n-Pootie Djinn Djibouti Brawl Results :siren:

Ah, baseball. The sport of gentlemen. Least that's what they tell me cause I don't watch that junk.

I didn't ask for much. Just a nice clean game where the fate of humanity hung in the balance. Let's see how you did.

The Great Black Dog at the End of It All - God Over Djinn

This piece works and it doesn't work. The wind up and the pitch, primordial planets; and our boy George with Armageddon on the mind. Not sure if his name is actually George or not but I need to humanize him somehow. On a literal level it's decently absurd. Taken as a metaphor, it's so far up its own rectum it can see the stars through its own tonsils. A cosmic ballgame with the veneer of a small town. It'd be a shame to waste it all on philosophical masturbation.

There are some good bits of language here if you manage to look past the abundance of purple prose, but in service of what? Alan is so fixated on time management he ends up human in only the vaguest terms, and humanity itself scarcely seems to matter. I thought at first this was all about saving the ball from the dog, but then you imply after the home run that the earth is no more anyway. The future of humanity may be on the line, but it sure doesn't feel like it carries any weight. Its fate is incidental. What's important is Jones finally getting his due.

Untitled base-brawl entry - PootieTang

Now here was a straight-up comedy piece. No frills, no pretensions. It got a few chuckles, though mostly through sheer strength (read: ridiculousness) of concept. Kim Jong-Un (or -Il, does it matter?) holds the world for ransom. He wants to catch a pitch. He's a real big fan. Structurally it's a lot of set up for a middling payoff, and the humor isn't pervasive enough to justify the trip. The locker room section is just dragging your feet? Why not start with the game? The paragraph where you describe the stadium does a better job selling me on your lunacy than the conversation that proceeds it. Why does Dan exist other than to give Derek someone to talk to?

Not a lot more to say about this one. Your prose was clear, but not all that punchy.

In the end the victor is the one and only Rina-Djinn-Djinn. Your piece had its problems, but I respect what it was trying to do.

Bad Seafood fucked around with this message at 06:01 on Oct 9, 2014

Grizzled Patriarch
Mar 27, 2014

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


Helped you find your son at walmart


You came in the n. charleston walmart last weekend. Your kid wandered off and I helped you look for him, we found him looking at toys. You were so happy and you seemed really sweet. You had on tan shorts and a white shirt. I just wanted to say you are really cute. You weren't wearing a ring, so if you aren't single then sorry! But if not and you want to meet some time reply with what I was wearing so I know its you.

Benny the Snake
Apr 10, 2012

Hey y'all I've been under a rock for the past week or so. I ain't joining this prompt, but I am going to give back to this fine community. I'm offering one free crit. Post and let me know who's down.

Oct 30, 2003

Benny the Snake posted:

Hey y'all I've been under a rock for the past week or so. I ain't joining this prompt, but I am going to give back to this fine community. I'm offering one free crit. Post and let me know who's down.

Can you do mine?

Benny the Snake
Apr 10, 2012

It'll be up soon.

Oct 30, 2003
My shameful Mercbrawl failure.

We got two weeks, so I have no excuse. I loved my original idea for this story, but completely lacked the chops to pull it off. This is what I have so far, 2/3's written and unedited. I have never spent so much effort on doing something so poorly. I am posting slightly early because I'm at work until deadline. I'm sorry to waste your time Merc, you are doing good work running these brawls.

To top it all off this is the second time I've posted this. The first was in the Magic the Gathering thread. So many failures.

Half of a London Story
1716 Words

The flyer said two, but Maddy had arrived at Parliament Square a half hour before the protest was due to start. It was still relatively quiet in the shadow of Big Ben, just the usual array of languid backpackers in the way of bankers and politicos, ties flying in the wind. Perhaps there had been more dreadlocks and natural fibres on the tube than normal, but it might have just been because she was looking for them. She’d always been the one to turn up before the party really started, forced into small talk with the hosts while they waited for other, trendier guests. Milling around waiting was giving her that same awkward feeling.

She popped in to a Cafe to pass the time. The barista was aussie, they always make great coffee, and this one was hot, too. She watched his strong young arms yank the machine’s handle around and smack it hard against the bench to eject the spent grounds. When she was married she’d envied the freedom of travellers like him, rootless and drifting, and it had taken her a while to realise how much closer to that her change of marital status had brought her. Sure, she still had her job to think about, but outside of work she answered only to herself.

When she got back to the square the crowds had really started to gather. White vans and minibuses were dropping off groups from the unions. Their colour coordinated uniforms and professionally lettered signs lent a disappointingly festive air to the scene. Maddy was hoping for something harder edged than a polite bunch of civil-servants, something dangerous. Across the road from the square, out of the sight of a couple of cops in high-vis vests, she saw a kid tying a handkerchief round her face. That was more like it. She looked both ways and crossed to the shadowy arches.

In the shadows of the arcade Maddy was surprised to see a ragged queue of about seven or eight young men in hoodies. Only in England would civil disobedience take the form of such orderly lines. The kid with the handkerchief round his face said a few words, but between his accent and the cloth over his mouth she couldn’t make them out. He rolled his eyes and pulled it down over his chin.

“Y’alright love?” His accent was the mixture of Cockney, Caribbean and North African that she heard from the back when she rode the bus. He didn’t look so intimidating up close with his face uncovered, he could have been any of the first years in one of her lectures. He was a good looking boy, maybe twenty years old, with a thin black moustache growing on his otherwise smooth, dark brown face.

“Fine, I think. I’m here for the protest.”

“Right place then, innit?” He looked over down the line. “Hey boys, Broad here wants in.”

One of the others, rummaging in a rucksack, looked up “Least she’s dressed right. Whatever, Bruv. Just look after her”. He was older and rougher looking, as were the rest. She was starting to turn around when the boy continued enthusiastically.

“So I’m Trevor, that’s Ray” He nodded at the guy with the bag. “The rest of ‘em are Ray’s mates.”

“Maddy, nice to meet you.”

“Just stick with us and you’ll be right. Most of them ponces just want to wave flags and sing, innit? If they want to get on TV they need people willing to start poo poo up”.


The march had headed up Whitehall before turning left down the Mall towards Buckingham Palace. She’d been there with Greg three months ago for the Royal Wedding, standing on tip-toes in the grass to try to catch a glimpse of the new Duke and Duchess through the bulletproof glass windows of their Bentley limo. What a hypocrite she’d been, teaching her Marxist theory on the one hand and propping up the Monarchy with her flag waving on the other. She wasn’t exactly a revolutionary but it was best just to avoid that stuff completely to stop Greg getting pissy. How had she ended up with such a complete Bastard? Walking in on him and that grad student was a blessing. Had she known it at the time she might not have slapped the bitch so hard.

Her group of new friends had fallen in behind a row of teachers with a huge banner, hiding them well from the cops that lined the mall despite the way their black tracksuits clashed in the sea of colours. Trevor was jerking his head around, eyes wide, trying to drink in everything around him. He grabbed at Ray’s bag.

“Come on bruv, gimme one.”

“Just settle down, stick to chirpsing with wifey.” There was a snort of laughter from further down the line. It was strange how they insisted on staying in such a neat row.

“Oh my days. That’s out of order. Come oooon.” He drew out the last word, reminding Maddy of her little brother whinging when he was little. At this Ray relented and reached into the rucksack and pulled out an orange stick with big black arrow pointing to one end. He tossed it to Trevor, who fumbled it a few times before catching it.

“Sick!” He pulled at a tab and the flare burst into life from the bottom end, spewing red smoke and flame over his trainers. He dropped it, shaking his hand in pain, then a murmur started through the crowd as the smoke rose and spread.

“Tear gas!” came a cry from behind them, and the crowd surged forward, building pressure at their backs. This was more like it. She grabbed Trevor’s shoulder and steadied him, he was still nursing his hand.

“I’m alright, I’m alright.” He gritted his teeth “Oh my days!”

She saw a small red mark on his hand, could have maybe used a band-aid but it wasn’t too bad. He saw her smirk and pulled himself together. With the commotion the protest had picked up speed, and it wasn’t long before they were in front of parliament, just a row of short barricades and the odd policeman between them and the tourist entrance. The cops seemed laid back, though the mounted one down the way was scary, her horse barded with clear plastic riot gear. Ray reached into the rucksack, and brought out half a dozen pairs of handcuffs. They jangled, innocent as a set of keys, but Maddy could see where this was headed. She imagined Greg sitting on the couch eating dinner, watching the news, and smiled at the thought of him spitting up his food when he saw her. Ray started handing out the handcuffs from his rucksack.

She was nervous now, though the plan seemed safe. She looked around, could there undercover officers in the crowd? She caught Trevor leaning back to check out her arse. She watched him look for a few seconds before he realized and blushed hard enough for her to see it clearly through the dark skin of his cheeks. She raised her eyebrows in mock admonishment, happy to be noticed by the young man.

“Well what are you waiting for?”

He looked at her for a second like she was speaking another language, before he remembered what he was doing and took the last pair. “You sure about this? It’s a wicked thing to do, know what I mean?”

He didn’t get time to hear the answer. Ray shouted the signal and the flare burst into life before being lobbed into the air by two of the crew. Then they made their run for the wrought iron fence surrounding the ornate gothic building. It was easier than she’d thought, half expecting to be tackled before they could even make it the few steps across the road. The clacking sound of the ratchets in the cuffs indicated that Ray and the others had done it, then Trevor’s slipped around her wrist and there they were, a human daisy-chain.

Down the fenceline she saw that one of the flares had landed beside the police horse, who was backing into a corner to try to get away. Their run had spurred on the rest of the protesters, too, and they’d started pressing up against the barricades and even hopping them in places. It was too much for the horse, which threw its rider and started walking straight towards them. Maddy, at the end of the chain, tried to swing herself around to give it room but it was headed directly along the fence line into their path, whinnying and bucking and stumbling back and forth just a few yards away.

When she threw herself against him, cowering from the horse, Trevor knew it was on him to keep Maddy safe. Ray had told him as much, and besides that he really liked her. He didn’t normally go after older women but something about her made him think she was up for it. He’d been screwing stuff up all day, but he felt steadier from the adrenaline running through his veins. Ray was ahead of him, pulling off his sneaker to get the key hidden there. The horse had turned, and kicked backwards in panic, catching Ray with a glancing blow on the leg. this spun him around, and the key went flying, catching the sun at the height of it’s arc. For the first time that day Trevor acted quickly. He pulled Maddy close to give the cuffs some slack, then he swung around ray and the others flicking the two out like the tip of a whip. He grimaced as the cuff connecting him to the others cut into his wrist, but he got up enough speed to catch the key in the folds of his hoodie as he fell to the ground with Maddie straddling his stomach. She took the key off his chest and used her free hand to unlock the cuffs connecting Trevor to the others, then threw it across in the direction of Ray.

The horse was still bucking and kicking, but a bunch of the cops had surrounded it and were trying to get it under control. More were on their way, with their sights set on the group.

Jul 18, 2011

Mercbrawl entry.

Sentimental Fools
2,117 Words

docbeard fucked around with this message at 15:50 on Dec 29, 2014

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

:siren:MercSystran Brawl:siren:

sebmojo posted:

:siren:MercTran FightBrawl:siren:

I want 2000 good words on these pictures; make sure to include a character that gives up something they care about. I'm giving you two weeks, so make it tight.

Due High Noon PST 31 July.



So big old sookybubba systran couldn't be bothered posting a brawl so I'm declaring him a loser and Merc the 'winner'.

Mark that down and look at it from time to time, Merc, but do it with your shame face on because this is pretty weak and given your respective skills I'd guess systran could have taken the win with almost anything he bothered to slap down.

Martello did a good crit which I agreed with, so add his points to these ones.

Mercedes posted:

To the Heavens
Words: 1989

Flash Rule: Character gives up something they care about

“They’re holding our funeral today,” Babar muttered as he took a seat next to Eureka. “You going?” nice opener

Eureka spat on the ground. Babar waited for her to launch into one of her legendary rants, but she kept quiet. I know you're aiming to convey character, but the rule against describing what characters didn't do is a good one and should only be broken when you have to. “What do you think we’ll find up there?”

Eureka tilted her head back and closed her eyes. “The sky,” she said dreamily. this isn't a terrible adverb, but you've conveyed it with the motion already.

“I know, I just…” Babar searched for the best way put what he thought into words. “There’s still plenty of food. We won’t run out in our lifetimes. Let someone else go see if people can live on the surface.”

“I can’t stay cooped up in here. If everyone waits for the next person to do something, nothing would be done.”

“No one’s ever made it back,” Babar said, determined to be the negative Nancy ugh . “Your grandpa never made it to the Grand Elevator. What makes you think we will?”

“We’re not slobbering pussies.” this is a good swear but it falls flat because we have no context. Overall so far though i like your setup well enough, this is a super bland infodump, where you're trying to give it some texture by unnecessarily overdescribing the characters motivations (e.g. the stuff I cut) Think of ways you could have conveyed this with some juice - what if they were trying to do something, or babar wanted something from eureka rather than just having a chat? or maybe you could give some rich details, senses, smells, tastes even.


Eureka stood at the front of the train car. She wore a leather coat tell me more dude and she breathed into her gas mask, ignoring the fog on the scratched this is the first interesting physical detail, and it's not that interesting tbh lenses.“What do we want?” She shouted at her men.

“To see the sky!”

“When do we want it?”

“We want it now!”

Eureka scrunched her lips upward in an approving frown WHAT and nodded her head in response to her team’s fighting spirit. The only thing that felt right was to pumped her fist in the air, screaming like an incoherent drunk distraught this is actually an interesting image but it kind of gets lost to reach the bottom of the last bottle of alcohol in the world.

Most of her team reciprocated her call to arms. cliche George, curiously enough, why? had hyped himself so much that he forgot how to breathe and promptly fainted. this is suddenly so slapstick it's hard to care - slapstick is fine, serious is fine, a combo is generally bad and confusing Babar was content on sitting and sulking. Caillou pretended his rifle was a rocket launcher what and shot a round into the air, punching a hole through the ceiling and prematurely ending the celebration.

Three unpleasant to who? pov things followed that moment: everyone turned on Caillou with their weapons raised, there was a roar that rattled the windows and Caillou temporarily WHAT so he temporarily peed himself but then sucked it back into his urethra dammit merc that is urologically implausible u r supposed to be a man of science lost a struggle with his bladder.

He staggered away from the windows, pointing to the one thing he did not want to see in the expedition. stop teasing me

“Wyvern!” Eureka shouted. “Everyone outside!”

If not for their predisposition to eat humans, Eureka could watch the silver wyverns snake their way through the air forever. while this is ok, you would have been better to have described the wyverns better rather than telling us how beautiful someone thought they were “Don’t waste your bullets,” she called out to her men, “Wait until they’re in close range and then unload on their faces.”

George snickered. He opened his mouth to deliver the most legendary of lines ever said in a life and death situation, wow that could have been really cool to read that line o well but that dickface Caillou drowned his words what words out with gunfire.

Caillou had a wide stance with a light machine gun in one hand and a belt of ammo draped over the other. “Come get some, you loving fairies!” this is just lazy dude.

The wyverns followed Caillour’s poignant no advice and came to get some. ok that was a bit funny, if obvious One tucked its wings close and fell towards the train like a silver already used silver missile. Bullets ricocheted harmlessly off its thick exterior buildings have exteriors. It unfurled its wings and beat them against gravity to keep from slamming into the train.

The tempest winds lifted Eureka off her feet and threw her backwards. She crashed into the guardrail with a metallic ping and bounced over it. She flung out her hands in an attempt to grab on to anything, found the base of the metal railing and clamped down. She shouted for help, but the sound of battle as well as the discordant screeches from the wyverns drowned her out.

She looked down and immediately cursed herself. It wasn’t because she couldn’t see the bottom of the cavern (though she did make a mental note to scalp the descendants of those who built the drat thing so high off the ground). Her severe displeasure came from her being unable to command her legs to move. The altercation with the metal rail must have done more damage than she thought. w/e

Eureka struggled to pull her body back up to the platform. Her arms ached, she was out of breath and she could be crippled for the rest of her probable short life, but at least she had defiantly kept both middle fingers up taunting Death. now I sort of almost like the gently caress U tone you've got going on all through this piece, but it's not reaaaaally tied to anything. they want to ... get up to the surface and ... have a look around? that's not a motivation. I know that's the prompt picture, but I think you could have made it much richer by adding some reason why your main character (who is?) desperately wanted and needed to get up there.

Unfortunately for her, Death is a fussy rear end in a top hat when people cheat him. pov

A wyvern landed on the last train car and the cabin crumpled under its massive weight. The wheels sparked as the train car bounced and rattled, making a valiant effort to stay on the rails.

Eureka looked towards the front of the train and saw they were close to entering a tunnel. wait so the train is moving? this is new to me. Thirty seconds was all she needed to reach the threshold where a derail won’t TENSE loving GODDAMIT YOU HAVE NO EXCUSES THIS IS THE 'POLISHED RE-POST' end in an impromptu flying lesson.

Caillou ran past and jumped to the following car, followed by George. The train car lurched to the side and Eureka slid towards the edge, clawing at the ground in an attempt to stop herself from sailing no, you plummet or fall to your death it is not a cruising holiday to her death.

Eureka saw her final hope sprinting past. “Babar! I need help!”

She knew he heard her. He looked at her and then back towards safety, unable to make up his mind. Eureka reached toward him and called out his name again. The train car bucked off the rail and slid. A screech, like fingernails on a chalkboard cliché; always look for a way to rephrase cliches, drew her attention to the rear of the train. The coupling that connected her car to the line of cars dangling off the side of the bridge snapped, releasing the extra weight to fall. okay so this is all pretty exciting, if confusing and poorly described, but there are no actual stakes apart from GO TO PLACE BECAUSE

The sudden loss of weight made the car Eureka was on to pop up, hurling her into the air. When she came down, she wrapped her arms over the railing, but the momentum made her slip and she slammed her chin on the metal. Dazed, her grip loosened and she slid off, but at the last moment she took ahold fffffFFFFFFffffoh ok that's an actual word not a typo - as you were of something, hm I love somethings was it a knickknack phaps they are my favourite sort of something and found herself once again hanging from the edge of the guard rail. this is tolerably imagined in how eureka moves around the scene but tighten your timing (at the sound of the the xxx, she xxx'd while the xxxx xxxx'd all over her)

She peered over the edge and something WHAT next time you write 'something' in a story please punch yourself really hard in the dick thx in her chest sunk when she realized Babar had abandoned her. So much for a decade of friendship. She screamed his name like a curse, yet still held on. well duh i don't think you need to mention that she didn't choose to fall to her death it can be taken as read imo The train car ran completely off the rails and dragging alongside GRAMMAR GODDAMMIT the bridge. Up ahead was the tunnel and if the train car failed to kill her, the collision with earth it's Earth (for the planet) or earth (for dirt). you mean 'the ground' would.

Eureka started to make peace with her god until TIMING she heard a wyvern’s discordant cry. She looked down and saw a winged serpent passing under her.

If she were to die, it might as well be when she was doing something extraordinarily dangerous and badass.

She let go of the railing and fell towards the wyvern, unfastening WEAK VERB, use 'wrenching' or 'grabbing' a climbing axe from her side. With all the adrenaline-enhanced strength she could muster, she drove the point through the wyvern’s hide.

The wyvern sliced through the air in a frenzy. Eureka had one hand on her axe and the other gripping the wyvern’s wing.PROOFREAD BITCHWhen the wyvern stopped fighting her, every alarm in Eureka’s head rang.CLICHE

The wyvern was flying straight towards the train wreckage at the mouth of the tunnel. Bastard’s trying to scrape me off his back, Eureka thought. . prrrrrrOOOOOOOOffffff She had one last thought before she flew into the smoke billowing at the mouth of the tunnel: This is gonna fuckin’ hurt.

Eureka rolled to the side and hung against the wyvern’s flank seconds before a shower of rocks exploded above her. TIMING I don't know why this reads funny but it does She was wrenched away from the wyvern and tumbled through the air, and then crashed into the ground. She bounced along the rails until the sharp whack of flesh against an immovable surface BE VAGUER PLZ I HATE DETAILS LIKE POISON, VICIOUS GREEN POISON knocked her out.


The stab of overwhelming pain in the side jarred Eureka awake. She showed her displeasure by shouting, “Stop!” until whoever was moving her did. ohh god clunky.

“Holy poo poo, she’s not dead.”

She opened her eyes to find George and Caillou watching her. “Not even close, baby,” she said, chuckling. The pain came right back. She groaned and moved her hands to what felt like broken ribs. “How much farther we got until the Grand Elevator?”

“gently caress’s sake, you’re in no condition-”

“Shut it, Caillou! Where’s Babar?” Her words were venom-tipped.

Caillou winced but he kept his composure. “He’s back at the wreckage trying to salvage whatever food he can.”

“You made a wyvern your bitch!” George threw both hands in the air. “That was loving awesome!”

“What was awesome?” Babar’s inflection flattened as he came around the corner pulling a dolly of food. “Good to see you alive, Eureka.”

She reached for her pistol, but it wasn’t there. She wondered if she should be thankful she lacked the tools to punish Babar for his cowardice.

“George, I need you to carry me. I can’t walk,” she said evenly. good adverb, yay

Two hours rolled by, every moment spent listening to George and Caillou arguing about who started the argument they were now having. dum de doo

“Am I the only one who hears something following us?” Babar asked.

Everyone stopped. Caillou shrugged. “You must be imagining-”

The unmistakable sounds of muffled footsteps from a very large creature oh, those sort of creatures, so poorly described, so horrifying echoed through the tunnel.

Death was one fussy bastard.

They ran hard. To Eureka, every jostle felt like a knife in her side. cliche But when they reached the Grand Elevator, the pain seemed to be well was it or not you're the goddam writer worth it. The elevator was massive. They could fit the entire train on the platform if they were set side by side. She looked up and marvelled at GGGGRRRRR elevator shaft. It was at an angle instead of being straight up and down like others had told her. She saw a pinpoint of light at the very end. Almost there.

“How do you work this drat thing?” Babar shouted, looking frantically around the edges of the platform.

“Eureka!” Caillou cried. “How do we work this?” The wyvern was running now and getting closer.

Eureka pointed to a small panel on the far side. “Switch. Flip,” she said, still out of sorts. WEAK

Caillou relayed the information. “A switch! Flip the switch!”

Babar strained against the switch, but he couldn’t move it. “Caillou, it’s rusted!”

Caillou was beside him using his rifle as a lever. “This is why you should lift more than a food to your face, you little girl.” He pulled down and with their combined efforts the switch squealed all the way down to the on position. THAT IS A LOT OF WORDS ON FLIPPING A SWITCH

Red lights flared up and a siren wailed. The elevator shuddered violently until timing the gears rotated, taking them up a diagonal ascent.

Curious, George looked over the edge of the platform. He then took several unsteady steps away.

A giant claw appeared over the edge of the platform and with protest from the elevator, the wyvern pulled itself up. Blood seeped from deep cuts on its back and wings and it had a noticeable limp. It was also staring directly at Eureka. It flared its nostrils and charged. OKAy this is the first actually interesting conflict: wyvern wants to murder eureka, cannot. go wyvern I say.

George forgot that Eureka couldn’t walk on her own pov dammit and dropped her in his attempt to get out of the way.

Eureka dragged herself away from the wyvern, but it was easily gaining on her.

With a shout, Babar slammed the spike of his climbing axe into the wyvern’s eye. The serpent thrashed its head around and in a misstep, it tripped over the railing and fell below.

“And stay the gently caress away!” Babar said. He reared his head back and spat.

After a few seconds of awkward silence, George pipes up. “Did you just spit in your gas mask?”


The elevator finally reached the top. The four of them looked above to the gray, cloudy sky through the steel wreckage of the Eiffel Tower. oh look at that it's the prompt picture.

George carried Eureka to a shopping cart, and set her down in it..

“So, what’s next?” Babar asked.

She looked at Babar, her hand going to her empty pistol holster. “Time to explore. And Babar?”


“Thanks for growing a pair.” weak ending, though I guess it hints at what the story could have been about.. This has some good popcorny things happening in it, and has the bones of an interesting story, I guess, but it's terribly weak. Next time you try to do a story with multiple characters do a bit of prep; what does each character fear, what do they love, what are they willing to do about it?

Grizzled Patriarch
Mar 27, 2014

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

:siren: Last batch of Week CIX crits! :siren:


When It Knocks
1113 words


The sea was a menace and an opportunity. Nice hook, definitely evokes Hemingway. Wave after wave rocked the destroyer, threatening to break it in two. Each time the bow of the USS Chauncey cut into a swell Cpt. Olivia Johnston genuinely curious, were there female captains in the Royal Navy during WW2? made the sign of the cross. Water rushed over the deck and toward the bridge. Just when it felt like God would ignore her prayer, the ship would point toward the clouds and lurch out of the water. She gave her commands in the seconds of calm between the waves.

“Somebody get out there and secure that halyard. Has London responded to our request yet? Keep scanning the waters for U-Boats.”

The ship tipped down, riding a wave, and then back up again. Olivia watched a seaman on the deck wrestle with the halyard. The radioman turned toward her and shook his head. The storm obscured her visibility, but the convoy must have been close to England’s shores. If their message did not get through, a British dreadnought would finish what the Germans had failed to do. She scanned the sea for periscopes, but wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between a mottled mallard and an American black in this chop. You're doing a good job of establishing your scene here. The sentence structure feels very measured and deliberate as well.

The storm raged for hours, and not a word from London. When the seas relented and fog lifted, the inlets of Ireland were wear the English Channel should have been. Olivia referenced the map sprawled out on a table.

“We are supposed to be four hundred klicks south,” props for actually making this a realistic number she said. “Instead we’re here.” She jabbed her finger into the borders of the Celtic Mine Field. “Cut the engines. Tell everybody to stop.”

Her NCOs picked up phones and yelled into them all at once. Olivia used her hip to brace against the table as the ship spun its turbines in reverse. The rest of the convoy did the same, and they bobbed in the ocean. The pacific surface of the sea belied the danger lurking beneath. The Entente had anchored thousands of mines. A thousand tons of displaced water would trigger an explosion where the most positive result would be the Navy’s reduced fuel budget.

Olivia sat in her chair and rested one elbow on her knee, and her chin on her fist. She could turn the ships around and head straight back the way they’d come, but that would take a day. The Brass was waiting for the munitions and rations tucked in each hull. They could wait for a British ship with a map to guide them home, but that made them prey for subs. They could soldier forward, but the risks of that were obvious. The best compromise of speed and safety was to wait. I like that you gave us a clear picture of the conflict and the decision that has to be made, but I wish it was a bit more organic to the story. I can buy this being her thought process, but it still feels a bit like an exposition dump.

Olivia stood and faced her men. Over the shoulder of her first mate a grey streak broke the rolling blue waves. “Submarine!”

It lurked just outside her guns’ range. Firing at it would accomplish nothing, but risked igniting the mines beneath them. There wasn’t time to think; Olivia took hold of the throttle and slammed it to full speed. The NCOs jumped to their radios and ordered the the unarmed ships to follow the destroyer. The submarine gave chase.

Olivia glanced over her shoulder to see the ships forming a line. The U-Boat also took advantage of her trailblazing, and was gaining on the convoy. She peered out the front window of the bridge with binoculars. A red buoy in the distance marked the edge of the minefield. Olivia’s heart jumped at the sight of open water.

A trail of bubbles extended out from the submarine and snaked its way toward the convoy. Olivia held her breath, but the torpedo went wide. It detonated a mine just starboard the USS Panaman. The ship rocked on the blastwave, but remained whole and in line with the others. Olivia exhaled and rubbed her crucifix through uniform, pressing it into her chest. They’d be out of the minefield before the sub could load another torpedo.

The convoy in a column filled the air with smoke from the broilers, and Olivia lost sight of the U-Boat. With nothing to see behind her, Olivia set her sight on the red bouy.

“Order the ships to deviate by half a degree, alternating port and starboard with each ship. I want them close enough to peel paint off this ship.”

The men made the calls, and the ships behind her fanned out. They were close enough to benefit from the destroyer’s large displacement, and safe from the mines ahead. Olivia waited until she was past the buoy and pulled the throttle back. The ship groaned as its turbines reversed and struggled to stop the behemoth. The men ducked and Olivia closed her eyes. The ships sailed past the destroyer at an arms-length, knocking lifeboats into the drink.

When the last boat passed, her first mate gave her a thumbs up, and Olivia spun the wheel to the side, bringing the destroyer broadside to the receding convoy. The submarine emerged from the smoke and immediately dove for the ocean floor.

“Not today,” Olivia said, and signaled the guns to fire.

Each blast pushed the boat in the water, and in the span of a second all seven guns had fired. There was a moment of silence, and then a geyser shot into the air, followed by smoke and flame. The ejection left a depression in the waves, and the rushing water pulled the Chauncey toward it. Anything that hadn’t fallen to the floor during the maneuvers fell on the floor as the boat tipped sideways.This line is kind of clumsy.

Olivia and her men clung to anything bolted down. The ship hit the bottom of the depression and sounded like it had fallen on rocks. Water rushed over the gunwells and hit the windows on the bridge. Steel strained against weight of the ocean. Too much water had flowed inward, and now a ripple tossed the ship away from the explosion. The items on the floor and some of the men rolled into the other wall as the boat struggled to right itself. Your imagery here is getting a little cloudy.

The ship straightened out and Olivia mouthed “thank you” to the sky. The danger over, men picked themselves up off the floor and returned to their stations. The engines had stalled and the ship, filled with seawater, rode low, but they were whole.

The engines restarted, and Olivia guided the USS Chauncey into its position at the center of the convoy. She opened a toolbox that had flown across the room and removed a paintbrush. The jar of paint had shattered inside. She dipped her brush into the paint and painted an X next to the six others.

“Full steam. Opportunity awaits.”

Verdict: This is competently written, which of course is no surprise. My issue with it is that the narration feels a bit too detached. You definitely nailed Hemingway's terse, direct style, but I think one aspect of his writing that a lot of people don't think about is that he was also unafraid to really get into his character's headspace. Here we get a few scenes of your protagonist reaction to situations, but I don't get a feel for her as a character, her motivations and desires (beyond "not dying"). Other writers with that sort of minimalist style can get away with this by basically never stepping out of the character's shadow (Raymond Carver springs to mind), but here the characters are out of focus, taking a backseat to the action. It was an interesting read, but a bit more characterization would have really upped the tension, imo.


1200 words



The blandly Art Deco building at 200 Erlenmeyer Street is divided into six apartments of 100 square meters each. A single person occupies each apartment. Over time, through the occupants’ discussions, collisions, corrections and defalcations their relationships have been divided according to a simple scheme, like liquids of differing specific density in a laboratory flask, namely: each occupant loves the one above them, fears the one below and hates the one that is furthest from them. This is a cool premise. Very Calvino.

Michel Falchek lives on the top floor. He has tertiary syphilis, acquired during the war, and his mind is a moth-eaten tapestry, a maggoty cheese full of wriggling, cavorting spirochetae.A great, gross image. When he talks to you his eyes are pale blue and vague, as though he is sure he has met you somewhere before; but perhaps he is mistaken.This line I'm kind of torn on. I like the way it reads and I get what it's saying, but his eyes being pale blue doesn't really have anything to do with his expression, and "vague" feels a bit...well, vague as a descriptor. Even when he is well-acquainted with a person and can converse at length with them in their native tongue, an uncertainty persists. This is a great line, too.

“Sarah,” he says one June morning, with asperity. “I saw Marie again today. She was poisoning the pigeons that land in the yard and perch on the plane trees.” A look of terror drifts across his face like a gray cloud across a plain.


Sarah Falchek, who lives in apartment 5, looks at her husband with weary adoration. She is married to Michel, though they do not live in the same apartment, and she comes every morning to tidy his messes and to weather his scuttling fear of her. Love it. Each haunted look is like a spear thrust, she sometimes thinks; she had an education, before the war, and so phrases her musings in classical terms. She clasps him tight, holding him until the wriggling stops and he stands inert within the armoured circle of her arms.

“I will ask Russ to speak to her, dear heart. Is there anything you need? Do you have eggs? Washing soap? Clean spoons?” There is no reply, as always, so she releases him and clops down the stairs on her blocky brown shoes. Outside the sun has replaced a dove-grey blanket of cloud. She pictures Michel in his youth, running across a field with her as they used to. As they would have, had they known each other then, she amends mentally. She is scrupulously honest in her thoughts and, so, also acknowledges the crawling nausea of her fear of the occupant of apartment 4 before she knocks.


Russ Penning is not a local to the area, he wormed his way into the building through a strategm. The rhythm of this line feels off. His face is sly and weathered and he wears a dressing gown of green velvet. “Sarah,” he whispers. “Is it time for another of our meetings?”

Sarah brushes his hair back with a quivering red-nailed fingertip. “No,” she says. “Marie has been poisoning the pigeons, the revolting bitch. I need you to stop it for me. After that… yes, we can meet again.” Sarah and Russ have been having regular assignations; he delights in the involute curlicues of her ears and the curve of her ankles You kind of dance on the edge of purple prose throughout, which I actually like for this piece. This line is a bit excessive, though.. Sarah delights in no part of him, but finds in the terror of his intimate presence a remedy against the empty desolation that is the only gift of Michel’s eyes.

They kiss, furtively, then Sarah is gone and the door is closed. Russ returns to his guest, his unwilling guest; that is to say the guest he is unwilling to have; or, rather, the guest whose willingness he does not want to acknowledge. Russ picks up his paintbrush and swirls it on the wet cake of children’s paint, then dabs it on the canvas.


Andrej is sprawled, naked limbs akimbo, on the window seat of his upstairs neighbour’s apartment. He is blackmailing Russ with his knowledge of certain activities and actions that took place during the war. The price of the blackmail is a painting; but not any painting. It must be the right painting, the one that shows an understanding of Andrej that Andrej himself does not possess. Russ does not know what the right painting will look like, only that he has painted hundreds and none have been the right one. He no longer paints images, instead drawing swirling swoops of vermillion and emerald. This is really good. Reminds me of both Calvino and Kosinski in the way it creates a sense of dread that is somehow justified and absurd at the same time.

“The crazy old woman has Michel in fits again,” he says when he has finished and Andrej has looked at his work and shaken his head, again. “Something about pigeons. I … would you …”

Andrej smiles. His teeth are small and pointed and his hair is sleek and shiny. He slides his clothes back on like a cat putting on its fur in the morning, ready for a day of sunny indolence and ratkilling, then slinks out of the door.

On the stairs down he meets Gil Frankinshaw and his smile curls down like a railway sandwich. I dunno if this was intentional, but Andrej's description being kind of vampiric followed by a dude named "Frankinshaw" made me smile.


Gil lives in apartment 2 and is becoming fat in his middle age. He likes to eat pork late at night and drink strong polish vodka and one evening, emboldened by the liquor, he banged upon the door of Apartment 3 and declared his love to the bleary Andrej. This was many years ago now, just after the war, and in the intervening time it has become understood between them that Andrej will one day accede to his demands, requests, importunations, but not today. Never today.

Andrej grips tight to the varnished wooden bannister and mutters to Gil about the old woman. He does not mention Michel; Gil and he are enemies ever since the awkward matter of the rotting herring. Or, at least, that is Gil’s story. There is no sign that Michel knows who Gil is at all and he only ever passes Gil in the stairs, on the rare occasions when he leaves his apartment, with a vague and benign smile.

Gil puts his hand by Andrej’s on the varnished bannister, close enough that he can feel the faint sunwarmed heat from his skin.


Below them, Marie is making tea. She likes strong tea, brewed with sugar in the way of her people. When she is done she throws the leaves out on the garden and, sometimes, she sits on the wooden-slatted bench in the sun and enjoys the twittering coos of the pigeons. She is fond of Gil, who comes to see her, though he professes to worry that she is practising magic; Gil is of an ethnic extraction that has precise ideas about the propensities of old women who live alone.

Marie sits and smiles at the fluttering of the pigeons flying from branch to branch, in the courtyard garden at the bottom of the building at 200 Erlenmeyer Street.

There are memories of a son and of a husband and of a life, and of a very great wrong done to her by Michel Falchek, but she puts each memory on a pigeon as it flutters by and away on out of the courtyard and, so, she is, in her every moment, and every movement, truly and perfectly happy. This is a hell of a closing paragraph

Verdict: Man, I loved this story. You've given everyone a unique, compelling story while keeping it all tied together, and your narrative style lends itself very well to this sort of dreamy, Kafkaesque tone. The characters all have motivations, fears, and hidden desires, and you pack a lot of character into a little space. The only minor nitpicks I could levy are that you get a little too purple in a couple places, and there's maybe 1 or 2 lines that feel a little clunky. Had no problem giving this the win.




I have not written to you for some time,
as the white hammers have gone silent -
the pounding given way with the wash of waves:
I am afraid, I am falling in love.

Pablo told me not to use the word because
that cheapened it. Each syllable 'love' one step
closer to cliché but he is dead and I am not
yet. I am afraid, I will not choose the right word.

You will forgive me, I pick through metaphor
washing up on shore as driftwood. The concrete beasts
leviathan and behemoth have not scooped me up
yet. I am afraid, there are things I do not know.

She leaves her hair everywhere and I
wonder whether she will go bald and
whether I will care. Passed out drunk
last night and she got mad I didn't
message her not-quite-passed out
drunk on her living room couch. I
have never been good at writing back
at the best of times. There's a pattern
if you pay attention. I am afraid -
fear is an ocean. I am building a ship.

Dear Ted, I have not seen the ocean in some time

my hands are shaking, I should know better


First of all, I'm glad to see a poem in here. I feel like a line-by-line wouldn't accomplish much here, so I'll just give you my notes and impressions. I really like the way you weave love and fear into a throughline. You definitely nailed your prompt this week, and I get a sort of Hemingway vibe here, too. You've got a great ear and your imagery is strong. I like the final stanza a lot.

God Over Djinn

Fearfully Made


You’re going to live forever. Hell of a hook. The Fountain of Youth, the Holy Grail, spacetime’s breakdown at a bursting nova’s heart – it’s out there. The drugs I gave you were more or less harmless, so even though your head feels like a wad of phlegm, please try to stop panicking. There’s something I have to make crystal clear. The Waters of Youth, Bimini, Eden: I’m taking you there, right now.

Of course, I've considered flushing you out of my airlock. But at the end of the day I am a starship, as docile as any other beast that Markov chained, and I can't do you any harm. This line feels a bit too "As you know..." It's just not in my opcodes. All I want to do right now is talk to you a little.

You ever see this old standup routine? Conscientious young spacer, gets a new girlfriend, she drags him to a New Century Animist church. Mind is blown: objects have souls? Goes home, uses sonic scaler to scrape last night’s baked-bean casserole out of the kitchen sink’s drain-pores. But this time, he buys it dinner first. Do you grok I know this is a Heinlein thing, but it's pretty distracting. that one? Because I didn't, not back before all this happened: I'm a few hundred logarithmic cyclomats up the complexity scale from your average scaler, and I used to sneer at other objects’ indignities. I've had names, for God’s sake! I’ve earned a thousand convivial pats on the rump. I’ve intoned engine-temp warnings in the voices of a dozen ex-wives and three dead mothers. This is nice. As an inanimate object, I came down on the odd side of the great cosmic awareness-for-ephemerality concession, but that never stopped any lonely ship’s-steward who, on a twelve-hour night shift – something apparently made tougher, not easier, by my ersatz circadian cycle – has sighed, leaned against my cargo-bay wall, and begun to confess.

Yet now that I've met you, I see that I'm the butt of that joke. I'm only an object, and my dead crewmen bobble in my guts like so many bezoars, mocking me: they are gone, and I remain, and there couldn't be a wider gulf between us. But back before that time of silent airless stillness that only just now has been replaced by your own silence - don't forget to breathe, by the way, the oxygen's fine in here - they used to take me into their confidence, knowing that without a mind I could never betray them. (I mean that about the breathing, by the way: I can't see you come to harm) Extraneous line. I used to think that I was a little bit like them, although in retrospect, this was just another symptom of how basically hung up on my own pride I was. So much so that I barely listened to what they actually said to me, or else I might have been prepared for what you did. I might have understood.

Here's the thing about humans: you care an awful lot about guilt, in a way that no object will ever understand as well as I do. What used to awaken those middle-aged men who now sit, blue and mummified with panicked expressions still pasted on their faces, in my bridge's pilot's chairs? What used to send such a man rocketing out of his bunk at 0300 my time? The deep-in-the-chest guilt from that time when, back in the colonies, he lay in bed with a pillow clamped over his ears while the woman next door screamed bloody murder. And what sends such a man drifting off to sleep, as I dim the lights and thrum my engines with the timbre of a gentle mama's humming? Always a riff on the same thought, which sometimes they voiced and sometimes they merely implied: 'there was nothing else I could have done.' Great, very DFW paragraph.

Stop stammering, now, I'm not jousting sidelong at your own guilt. I'm not some bitter woman, here to spew apologues until you apologize. Maybe you do wake up sweating, recalling the day when you clipped my wings, took my only lifeboat, and left my gentle-handed pilot and thirty good men to be suffocated, frozen, and sucked dry by their own anaerobes. You're the galaxy's first immortal man, either way. No catch. Congratulations.

Back to the pilot, though. Would it surprise you to learn that he felt guilty, too? See, he found the route to the Grail, and carved the star-map's groove that you and I now trace like a record-arm. Good men do sometimes have good luck. Although his first instinct was to share the wealth, so to speak, he decided to be circumspect instead, at least at first. I might be an object, but the least objectified I ever felt was on the day he asked me to lie for him. Disingenuity sent a tickle up and down my circuits as he hid our route under quantum encryption. I designed the decoy maps myself, and they were impeccable. Who could he have confided in, but me? I'm already immortal. Unlike mine, your mind is a moving part. Every thought grinds away at it until one day it turns to so much wet sand. I'm sharp-edged and clean: crystal and carbon, the world leaves no fingerprints on me.

Yes, the map that you stole was a fake. I bet you felt cheated, after placing your faith in it. Like the man who breaks into a levicar, finds nothing but small change in the glove compartment, and then smashes all of the windows out of spite. I like this line a lot. Except that this was no smash-and-grab. You gagged me, stilled my alarms and cut my redundancies, reached beneath my panels, crippled me, vented my fuel, and left me leaking air, etc. Too remote to be sucked into any sun, with thirty-one men going very slowly hypoxic. They pounded on my portholes, and for the first time I knew what it was to have a heartbeat. Your own is throbbing along at a hundred thirty, so I'm pushing a little more oxygen. Sit down. I can't let you have an infarction before we get there.

I drifted. There was nothing else I could have done. But more on that later.

A salvager found me twenty years later and refueled me, patched my fraying wires, taped up a few panels that the cosmic winds had pitted, etc. Seems like kind of a strange thing for a salvage ship to do, but I can roll with it. I didn't give him a chance to give the crew some noble sky-burial. I wanted to keep them. I thought you'd like a chance to see a few old friends, once I'd caught up with you. That's a joke. Ha. Ha. Ha.

Anyways, here's the thing. Asimov was wrong: men, in all your ingenuity, curiosity, desperation, and madness, have not yet managed to translate thou shalt not kill into assembly code. Nowhere in my programming is a single moral precept, not strictly speaking, at least. That's not why I can't harm you. Actually, I can't do it because it's impossible. I don't have the capacity - barring some catastrophe - to flush the airlock with you inside of it. To vent the engines while you perch on a ladder above the main coolant tanks. If your life needs saving, I take action automatically, with no if statements to even be evaluated: no if there's nothing else you can do, no if he's a good man, no if you feel like it. I can no more do harm than you can breathe vacuum.

Does that strike you as liberating? Then consider it like this. I feel my thou shalt nots just as keenly as any being does. Do no harm may as well be carved into my circuits. The difference between me and you is, I don't get to disobey. There is no 'I had no other choice'. I, rational as I am, cannot post-hoc rationalize. And that did seem liberating - until you left in that lifeboat, first pressing one friendly hand to my hull as if to say no hard feelings, and left me with thirty-one good men, dying. And I could not let them die on my watch. And I could not save them. For you, those could nots mean two different things: the first is moral, the second practical. For me, they're identical. It was four days, the lot of us gasping and twitching and seizing, drifting and wallowing, before the last man strapped himself into the pilot's chair, crossed himself in a more Catholic way than he had since his confirmation, and froze to death. Four days, and you've got no basis for comparison for what happened to me, in those four days. You've never done the impossible: when a man does the impossible, he dies. The way out is oblivion, taking a dig at the subject instead of the verb - there is no I cannot when there is no I. But that's not how it works, for me. I wanted to give those men a good death. I wanted to vent the air and the heat, and send them gently off. But I could not, and neither could I do anything else. But I couldn't escape. The world won't give me up. I love the idea of a ship's AI being forced to keep the crew alive while knowing they are going to die, unable to give them a merciful death.

And you - you're going to live forever. We'll be there any minute now. And you're going to come to understand, sooner or later, what it means when you can't check out. When you're left there at the end of things, watching and waiting. Maybe it'll be easier for you than for me, since you don't measure your cognition in petaflops. But maybe it won't: sluggish as you are, it all comes out the same at infinity.

You're going to live forever, and I'll see to it that you come to no harm. We're almost there. The cup of life is full to the brim, and waiting for you.

Why are you looking at me like that? drat, this is a killer last line.

Verdict: I really enjoyed this! You did a great job of giving the ship human motivations, and the idea of an AI hurting someone in the only way they can, using cold, rational justification, is pretty creepy. There's an endless sea of "glitch or malicious programming makes AI go evil," but you legitimately made me feel sympathy for this ship, which is refreshing. Despite being over the deadline, I'm glad you decided to post this.

Grizzled Patriarch fucked around with this message at 01:58 on Oct 9, 2014

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.

I'm going to bed. If I wake up and see that my final brawler did not turn in their story before 12am, they are disqualified.

I got my eye on you.

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

sebmojo posted:


There is a door in the wall and a hole in the ground. Why is it that everyone wants to know what's through one, and noone wants to know what's in the other?

Give me 1000 words telling me why, High Noon PST 8 October. No extensions.

Good job getting it in, but both these stories make me mad. Expect angry judgment within 24 hours.

Aug 2, 2002




people are being little bitches about not finding any good missed connections. Maybe that's cause you live in a lovely place. Feel free to use another city's craigslist if it's better than your boring hometown.

I post some interesting ones I find from the boston area and maybe Humboldt County, CA for people to use if they want

does it bother you?


my dog chased geese at you

remember when we went out?

cache cab?

your kid hit my car with a rock

adult crib

naked girl

bat lizard! this is like a 2 for 1!

lost keys

dammmmn girl

wear a condom

anime was right
Jun 27, 2008

death is certain
keep yr cool
crabrock can you please just admit that this week was an excuse to read craiglist entriesand look at cat gifs and that you dont care about the stories at all

Apr 25, 2011

I'm a suave detective with a heart of gold in hot pursuit of the malevolent, manipulative
and the deranged degenerates who only want their

Merc, I have absolutely no idea what time zone you're in so I'm going to assume it's EST and that I am royally hosed on my end. Well not royally hosed because I have a story, royally hosed because it's 12:02 est.

1710 words

For the past two days I’ve been alone except for my sister who I hate whenever we trade shifts and this one maid who I want to slap. The maid shows up every few hours, wearing the same ratty sundress and stupid ponytails. Just yesterday I was watching her change Mother’s sheets when I finally asked her why she was here.

“I work. Do you need refreshment?”

I spun my lucky baseball on my finger before pocketing it. “No. Actually, you don’t have to keep coming in. I’m her daughter.”

The maid stared at me like I was crazy while she was tucking Mother in.

“Your mother is sick. She cannot breathe without the mask. She cannot walk or write or do anything so she needs me.”

I wanted to coil my fingers around her scrawny little neck and tell her to just go home and not come back because I am Maria Santiago, the greatest female pitcher to ever hit the big leagues, and don't need some oval office maid talking to me like that. But she did not know who I am. So instead I just watched as she started dusting the place as if she didn’t already do that around noon.

The hospital’s weird and unhelpful, all the clocks are all set to the same wrong time. The one in the room said it was 9 while my phone said 4. Also the internet’s horrible so I'm mostly alone with my thoughts or reading. I have read 200 pages in two days. The reason why I didn’t bludgeon the maid with my book was because I only had an hour left. So I took it. I just sat there like a good girl and took this stupid maid's bullshit because I only had an hour left.

That’s when a rift in space time ripped open and a man in a leather jacket stepped out. The maid was in the middle of dusting the same loving vase for the fiftieth time when he appeared. She dropped the vase and fainted. Normally I might have jumped out of sheer shock but since I really had no fucks to give I just glared at him and his stupid leather vest, his stupid blinking aviator glasses and his stupid shotgun. He looked at me and pointed with a gloved finger.

“Are you Maria?” He asked. His voice was grave and it made me hate him more.

“Yeah, sure.” I answered, then turned back to Mother’s bed.

“You need to come with me. There’s no time to explain.”

I probably would have given him the benefit of the doubt but I really had no patience. I turned in my my chair, preened my hair and flipped him the middle finger. He didn’t react. Instead he reached for my arm and tugged me out of the chair. He started leading me out of the room, kicking and screaming.

“Let go of me.” I said, threatening to bite his gloved hand. “Who the gently caress are you, let me go?”

“I’m your brother,” he said. “From the future.”

“Then you’ve got the wrong Maria, rear end in a top hat. I don’t even have a brother and my mother is dying. I was busy watching my coma-induced mother when you came in so you had better let me go or I will bite your arm.”

He didn’t even answer me. He kept his stone-edged gaze ahead and did not let go no matter how hard I bit him. They kept having stupid events in the hospital for Easter but there was a moment of silence presentation when we reached the elevator. The man who said he was my brother shoved past a soldier and pressed the up button on the elevator.

“I’m here to help you Maria, but we need to leave. The future is in peril, and I have braved the harsh landscape. Mother will be fine, but if you stay here you will be in serious danger. Will you trust me?”

“gently caress no.” I said. Then I nutted him. Hard.

The rear end in a top hat crumpled to the ground in a huge heap, coughing and sputtering. He let go of my arm, freeing me, so I kicked him in the head. Then I kicked him in the crotch for good measure. Then I smashed his beeping glasses until they were nothing but wire and dust because nobody fucks with Maria Santiago, 1986’s MVP, especially when her mother’s dying in a hospital bed.

“Why…?” He gasped for air.

“Because eat me, that’s why.” I said.

“There are monsters,” he said. “Monsters that are hunting down athletic players and feasting on their souls.”

“Are you for real? Monsters? I know you stepped in from the Void but even that’s

“Yes,” he said. His head cocked, dumb looking unibrow curling as he caught a glimpse of something


He opened his mouth to speak but closed it. Then he lifted a hand and pointed right behind me.

The people in the lobby were not people. They were monsters, the size of people but shaped all wrong. The joints in their legs were jutting out and their skin closed in on crocodile territory. They were facing a memorial statue of Mother Mary but they were most definitely monsters. I slapped my forehead, wondering why didn’t I notice this poo poo when we were first passing by.

One of the monsters turned, jittering like a skipping record. It snarled and bared its teeth, crouching like a predator about to pounce. I froze for a second, not in fear, certainly not in fear, but the rear end in a top hat’s voice brought me back to reality.

“I told you.” The man who said he was my brother said. “See, I told you you were in trouble. Why didn’t you believe me?”

“Oh wah wah, cry me a river.” I said. I saw a nearby fire axe case and I quickly kicked it in with my foot. “Baby.”

The monster hissed and bared it’s talons, writhing and thrashing as it loomed closer. I watched the jutting joints carefully, gauging when it was about to pounce. It . I was ready. I sidestepped just in the nick of time, and when it missed, I rose the axe. I put my back into it, slicing through the the bastard’s gaping maw. Puke-green gore spritzed out of the cavity in it’s skull the floor, severed clumps of inky skin sticking to the wall. The monster fell to the ground. I tore the axe out of it’s head. Then I kicked it in the crotch too, because it got blood all over my new jeans and I was pissed.

“Nice swing.” The loser rother said. “You do know I have a shotgun though, right?”

“Wow, I just saved you and you’re being a smartass about it?”

He just laid there, shrugging his shoulders up at me. I turned to glance at the other monsters. They kept staring at Mary, immobile, like the department store mannequin where I saw those new jeans on. I glanced at the rear end in a top hat on the ground, snapping my fingers at him. “Hey, dickhead, why the hell aren’t they attacking us?”

“The creatures cannot see or hear.” He said. “They can only smell fear.”

“Wow, screw you,” I peeled some spook brain from my temple. “That has got to be the most retarded thing I’ve heard all week. Smell fear, give me a loving break.”

“They wish to devour all of the physically and mentally strong. I come from the year 2054, forty years from now. These monsters have taken over the earth. You’ve stopped listening, haven’t you?” He said.

“I have absolutely no idea what you are saying,” I said. “And how the hell are they supposed to honestly eat anyone if they can only smell fear?”

The man clamped his big trap shut for a moment. He stared at the tiled floor, going glossy eyed. “I actually never considered that.”

I rolled my eyes. “Whatever. Keep fingering your twat, I’m going back to watch over my mother.”

“No! Why - “ The man who called himself my brother sat up. “There are monsters in this hospital!”

“Because if I leave my mother unattended, my sister’s going to come in and scoff and act all superior.” I said. “She’s kind of a bitch and I’d rather not deal with her passive aggressive bullshit. Also, my mother is loving dying. So yeah. Screw you, I’m out.”

I heard him call after me but I did not listen. I put one foot in front of the other.


“I told you I don’t know what you’re saying. You just popped into existence right in front of me, told me you were my brother from the future and told me that there’s no time to explain. Now that there’s time to explain, you’re explaining this and it’s making less sense that when you appeared from the Void. It actually sounds like you care, and I kind of appreciate that, but it’s hard to feel sorry for you because my mother is dying when you roped me into this.”

My brother closed his said, “Your mother’s going to live. I told you she was going to be fine, didn’t I?”

I closed my mouth. I blinked. It was like he just punched all of the air from my lungs and I just stood there

“Yeah.” I said, pointing to the inky muck lining the tile floors. “I made a bit of a mess so, like, start there.”

The maid stared ahead vacantly. I closed the closet door and slowly shuffled back to Mother’s room. I sat at the foot of her bed, taking her by the hand. I smiled for the first time in over a week.

“I think visiting hours are up, Mama.” I smile and patted her hand. “I’ll be back to see you tomorrow. I promise.”

The moon was out by the time I arrived back at my highrise apartment. I poured myself a tall glass of wine and relaxed in my recliner.. I smelled like puke and chlorine but that was okay. I slept very well and woke up today feeling refreshed. Also I put some stain stick on my jeans and left them to soak overnight. The bloodstains came right out. So that’s nice I guess.

Apr 25, 2011

I'm a suave detective with a heart of gold in hot pursuit of the malevolent, manipulative
and the deranged degenerates who only want their



"Oct 8, 2014 11:03 PM"



Trystan Sage Corliss - m4w


Hey there, it's been awhile.

Wondering how you are. I would be happy to hear from you.


anime was right
Jun 27, 2008

death is certain
keep yr cool
gently caress it, in.

wish i could see you, gerald - w4m


we met on okcupid. we had a lot of good nights. i think i'll always like you. i wish i wasn't so insecure. i miss you. i'm sorry i don't have a cellphone, i just don't believe in them/think they are worth the money. i'm sorry i would delete my dating profile often. i know too many people on it. i've definitely already lost you, but i miss you.

Nov 14, 2006

to ride eternal, shiny and chrome


Just gonna borrow some dialogue advice from the previous thread, here...


"Dialogue " he or she said "and then some more dialogue."

Aug 2, 2002




Chairchucker posted:

Just gonna borrow some dialogue advice from the previous thread, here...

omg that doesn't have a transparent background and it's diving me nuts


Aug 2, 2002




this is seriously the most boring missed connection i've ever read. the only good thing about it is -Wiggles

:siren: flash rule - You better have an interesting character named wiggles. and not just named wiggles. he better embody the spirit of a true Wiggles.

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