- Oct 23, 2010
Paper works (868 words)
When he saw the hooded skeleton,
Peter did the sensible thing; he pivoted on his heel and ran, aiming to put as much distance as possible between himself and that scythe. But there was nothing to run to, only a featureless, gray void, stretching out in all directions. His feet found little traction on the not-ground, and he wasn't exactly in peak physical condition. It was only a matter of minutes before he couldn't run anymore. The skeleton was still right behind him, like he hadn't moved a single step from where he started. Peter just glared at it. With a single tweak I quite like your opening line! Well done.
"Don't give me that look," Death said. "It's not my fault your plane crashed."
"So I'm really dead?" Peter took a step back
, and actually moved this time. "What happens now?"
"I cut your head off and you move on to the ever-after." Death hefted its scythe. "You won't feel a thing."
That seemed a bit redundant, since Peter was supposedly dead already. "What, so you just show up to scare everyone before they get to be dead for real?"
"No, most people skip right through limbo," said Death. "But every once in a while, someone gets stuck here and I have to go on cleanup duty. Like today."
Death pulled the scythe back for a swing.
"Wait, wait, stop!" Peter said, panicking. "Can't I challenge you? I challenge you!"
The scythe stopped mid-swing. Death sighed heavily.
"Why does everyone know that?" it said. "Fine. What game? Chess? Poker? Pretty much anything works." duuuuuude are u writing bill and ted fanfiction tell me you are not, please
Peter was not good at chess, and the few friendly poker games he'd been in hadn't gone particularly well. He wouldn't bet his life in either of those games. In fact, he had a pretty terrible win record with every traditional game he'd ever played. But Death had said anything. And while Peter wouldn't call it a game, exactly, there was one thing he never lost at.
"Rock-paper-scissors," Peter said. "We play again on a draw. First win takes the game."
He'd never gotten a draw, either; he was starting to feel hopeful about this. All he had to do was pay careful attention to Death's fingers as their hands came down on the three-count. People always starting folding out their fingers a fraction of a second earlier than they meant to. With his reflexes honed to react to the smallest twitch, Peter's victory was all but assured.
Two hands met above the void. Scissors against scissors. A draw. Peter started sweating. He'd seen Death's pinky move, hadn't he? Had it done that on purpose, to mislead him? There was no time for second-guessing. Without words, they faced off again.
This time, Peter's open hand closed over a bony fist.
"Paper beats rock," he said, relieved. "Can I go?"
Death looked down at its own hand, expressionless. "Yes," it said, and gestured out at the void. "Walk. You will return to life soon enough. I need to deal with the other victims."
"They're here too?" Peter asked. "Didn't you say that was rare?"
"It is, and they are not. For them, it's just a matter of record-keeping."
Peter hesitated a moment. "They won't get a chance to win their lives back?"
"No. They won't meet me." there's a lot of fluffy chitchat that don't amount to a hill of beans in this poorly described limbo of ours
That didn't seem fair. Of course, life wasn't fair either, so it made sense that death wouldn't be. Still, maybe there was something Peter could do to make things just a little more just.
"I'll play in their place," he said. "I shouldn't be the only one who walks out alive."
"You cannot," said Death. "No one can play for another's life. But since you all died at the same time, you could trade your own for one of theirs."
"I'll do it," Peter said after a moment's thought. "The woman on the seat next to mine, she gets to live."
"That is very noble of you." Death took out a little book from its robe and started flipping through it. "Were you close?"
"Don't even know her name," Peter said. "Maybe I'll find out. I'd like to play another round of rock-paper-scissors. For my life. And then I'll trade it again. And again. Is that permitted?"
"It... yes, technically." Death shook its head. "But if you want to challenge me again, you must win twice without losing. The third time, thrice. And so on."
Peter gulped. "How many people were on that plane?"
"Three hundred, including the pilots. None survived." Death put a hand on Peter's shoulder. "You can't win back all their lives. Take your own and go. I won't hold you to your first trade." this is not very Death-y
That would be easy, wouldn't it. But there had been children on that plane. Parents. Husbands, wives, friends... people with lives. i think you could have done a bit more with Peter's total gooniness, maybe riffed on endless nights alone in his parents basement practicing rps and watching youtube vids or w/e but i still like that it's there Maybe they weren't more important than Peter's own, but they wouldn't even get a chance to save themselves. Not helping wasn't an option.
"So that's about... forty-five thousand matches, total?" He held out a fist, ready to play. "Looks like we'll be here a while."
"No." Death mirrored his pose. "Only until you lose."
"I've never lost a game of rock-paper-scissors in my life," Peter said. "I'm not about to start just because I'm dead."
Alone in limbo, Death flipped through its notebook one more time. Two hundred and ninety-nine names were crossed out. He had a lot of resurrection forms to fill out. And the scythe needed sharpening now, too. He went to work, as he always had and always would. uh, ok? so he loses the last match? I get a potent whiff of 'so what' from this story with an intriguing hint of 'who cares' in the backnotes; it's an idea that's been done, and there's no actual conflict or interest in the way he wins.
Mister Duffy of Ascot strolled to the corner of the immaculate living room and took a long, languorous piss on the Persian carpet. Nice opener; 'clean cut' has a number of meanings it could carry, and keeping the cat-ness of mr duffy a surprise let's the piss be one too.James turned to Mister Duffy’s chauffeur, his face a horrified grimace
, his equilibrium shattered. “I’ ved only just cleaned,” he said.
“He’s marking his territory,” said the chauffeur before picking up the kitty-carrier and heading
for out the door. “He’ll be lovely once he settles in. I’ll be back on Wednesday. Oh, and The Boss says to say ‘thank you’ for this.”
enormously elongated car screeched away down the suburban street, and James’ mind whirled, analysing the chemistry of the situation. Arming himself with a basket of paper towels, baking soda, white vinegar, dish-washing liquid and Hydrogen Peroxide, James removed as many traces of Mister Duffy’s act of domiciliary consecration grrr there is well-placed high-falutin and there is just word wankeryas he could before the stench of cat pee set in forever. Once done spotting, soaking and cleaning, he began scan ningned the surrounding floor area with a black-light , looking for residual spray. Satisfied that there was no ne residual spray, he turned to address blocking the uncouth interloper , who watched from James’ vintage turntable with a considerable lack of interest.
“It seems,” said James, “that we have gotten off to rather a bad start.” He packed his chemicals neatly into the basket and approached the turntable, keeping his face level with Mr Duffy’s. “Never mind. Nothing that can’t be fixed with an open mind and a little give and take. I’m James, and welcome to my home.” say this with 1/3 of the words plz and get to the antagonism faster - faux politeness to a cat doesn't really read
Mister Duffy of Ascot yawned in James face, his tiny pink tongue curling at the edges. nice
“One of which you may not be aware,” said James, ignoring this lack of etiquette. “I run a tight, clean ship here. There are rules. Many of them are unwritten, but if they were ever to be put on paper, the first rule would be Do Not Urinate On The Carpet. It may interest you to know that the carpet is Persian, much like you, so really you’re just pissing on your heritage. Let me introduce you to the litter-box in the kitchen.” He moved to the hall door, pausing at the threshold to look behind him. see that's much better, cut the last bit
Mr Duffy of Ascot, a look of extreme concentration on his face, was having no have things happen not be in the process of happening a poo on the turntable.
“Christ!” yelled James, racing for the rubber gloves.
Much disinfectant later, when Mister Duffy of Ascot finally deigned to investigate the kitchen, James took stock of the living room. What was truly surprising, he thought, was the amount of cat hair that got everywhere in such a short period of time. It was on the couch, the mantelpiece and the windowsill plus the carpet itself. Still, thought James, this, at least, he could handle. He had cleaned up a lot of things for The Boss, using his talents and predilections to render a multitude of crimes invisible, wait, what? this should be much earlier - and does it really add anything? and a cat should be a doddle by comparison. At this very minute a dust-buster was hanging in the hall, just waiting for such a challenge.
James grabbed it and was joined in the living room by Mr Duffy, who scratched vigorously, creating a cloud of fluffy hair. what, ex nihilo? James shook his head, and went to the other side of the room. He pulled the trigger on the dust-buster and let rip, kicking its engine, which he himself had modified to a brutal efficiency, into high-pitched gear. The fur departed from the realm of the living-room and disappeared into the whining innards of the machine and he marvelled at the power and convenience of the device. If Mister Duffy was at all disturbed by the loudly vanishing remnants of himself, he showed no sign.
James finished the mantelpiece and waved the his magical, dust-busting wand over the couch, the windowsill, and then the curtains. Mister Duffy remained where he was, alternately licking his haunches and watching the proceedings with an undisguised contempt. After much manic movement, James switched the machine off and took a look at his handiwork, crossing to the couch only to discover it again covered in cat hair. The mantelpiece, too, could be seen shining with silvery white fluff. Hair was stuck to the window as well, and the curtains.... James turned to face the cat in astonishment
Mister Duffy of Ascot licked his anus at him.
James sped to the hall, and grabbed the Cyclone-Vacuum from where it hung beside the dust-buster. He pulled its trigger, and the deep, satisfying growl of finely tuned machinery went almost unnoticed. what so there was a sound but it wasn't a sound but what Instead, James hurried back, and applied the full force of vacuum science to the entire room - walls, floor, furnishings. When he passed the nesting tables, he switched on the parked Roomba with his foot, reasoning that this was not a time to quibble that it wasn’t capable of a truly deep-clean. Then he scooped up the dust-buster with his left hand, and applied to anything that was within reach. there's a nice image of the ninja cleaner with his whirring implements, but wayyyy too clunky and clumsy in the getter here.
Mister Duffy finished attending to his bottom and moved warily away from the Roomba and the noisy, man-cleaning-machine hybrid. James could see the fur shedding as Mister Duffy walked away, practically leaving a trail along the carpet. He moved to intercept, vacuuming, dust-busting, attempting to will the Roomba to follow him
with the very power of this mind. As he got closer, Mr Duffy moved away, ambling from one corner of the room to another, with James following each time, mechanically inhaling the detritus of Mr Duffy’s passing.
They had circled the room almost three times, shedding and sucking in turn, before James was hit by a vision that shattered the boundaries of space and time and consciousness. James saw himself as an irresistible force of cleanliness, Mr Duffy of Ascot was an immoveable object of mess - there could not rationally be two of them residing in the same universe, and yet, here they were, locked in an eternal cycle of fluff. yes, i do like this but you've been unforGIVably self indulgent in getting here.
James stopped in his tracks, turned everything off, and stared at Mr Duffy of Ascot. Then he went to fetch his razor.
On Wednesday, after the Boss had left, the chauffeur picked up the wrinkled, denuded Mr Duffy of Ascot and nudged James with his foot. A small pulse of blood came from James’ over-shaved neck, dribbling into the pool already staining the carpet. “Pity,” thought the chauffeur, as he looked up the number of the second best cleaner on the payroll. And no, that ending is a very weak call back to the criminal enterprise line. Not one of your best, mr mouse, poss one of your worst.
don't care, cut
“Anne,” Jay said, “The girl cries when she has to walk twenty feet. No way in hell is she walking to dinner with us.”
“She wants to,” I said stubbornly. “Look.”
“Walk!” Lisa insisted, pointing up the road to the older girls, who were milling about impatiently. “Walk!”
“No! She can take the van with everyone else.” He turned away.
“Walk!” Lisa wailed.
“Alright Lisa,” I told her. “You've got to come inside with me.”
“Want walk!” She stomped her foot and shook her head, once more pointing up the road.
“I know you do. I've got to ask Frank for permission first, okay?”
“Yes. Walk. But we have to go inside first.” I took her hand gently. “Come on.”
- - -
“Frank, she wants to walk to dinner. All the other girls who wanted to walk got to,” I said, leaning against the counter in the cabin kitchen.
“You know Lisa. She'll sit down in the middle of the road when she gets tired – and that'll only be a few feet – and then she won't move. You can't think she'll make it all the way there.”
“So let her try. When she gets worn out we'll stop, and you guys can pick us up on your way.”
“Alright, alright. Go ahead.”
I slipped out of the kitchen. “Alright Lisa, do you still want to walk?”
- - -
We walked in the bright spring evening. Lisa set a slow, steady pace. Twice she tripped and fell. Each time I expected her to stay down, and started looking over my shoulder for the van. Both times she got up again. “Do you want to wait for the van?” I asked her.
“No. Walk!” she answered. So we walked. Eventually she wiped the sweat off of her forehead dramatically and said, “Tired!”
“Let's take a break,” I said, leading her to one of the flower boxes along the side of the road.
“No!” She said. “Walk.”
We walked until the van pulled up next to us, within sight of the dining hall. “Do you want a ride?” Frank called out the window.
“Anne?” he asked.
“You heard the girl,” I said, though I was hungry and hot and would have loved to hop in.
- - -
Jay and the girls who had walked ahead were leaving the dining hall when we came in. Lisa grabbed his hand. He tried to pull away, but she held on. “I walk!” she said, stamping her foot.
“So you did,” he said. “Good job, Lisa.” you know, i have a daughter and yeah the funny little things she does are hilarious as hell but you know what they are most hilarious to precisely 2 people, me and my wife and their hilarity decreases according to the inverse square law as we move down the pyramid of consanguinity. What I'm saying is noone cares.
Sisters of Sarah Jane
Deep in the rolling ocean of wheat sat an island of blue gingham named Sarah Jane. this is a splendid opening line, just lovely. You can either pose an intriguing puzzle or use arrestingly good words and this is the latter
She carefully laid out the corn husks and corn silk she took from the McLarey’s field. give general description in a separate para from specific descriptions works better here, see below She was out as far as she dared, where she could be truly alone but could still hear her daddy call for her. She came out here most afternoons after he finished his jug and fell asleep.
She hummed as she carefully laid out the corn husks and corn silk she took from the McLarey’s field
. she started her work,see? the only other sound the hushed yet constant rustle of the wheat. It never took her long to make the arms, shaped and wrapped perfectly tight. She took the smaller bits of husk and crushed them into a ball, then wrapped more husks over it to make the head and body. She shoved the arms up under it, tying everything off as hard as she could. When she first started making her dolls she could never get the string tight enough. Now it would hold forever. Last was the dress, which she folded down with the utmost care. She could tear it if she wasn’t careful. She ruined many a doll that way.
She reached into her pocket and pulled out a small bottle of glue she bought with money earned selling her dolls to classmates. Everyone marveled at how perfect her dolls were; how quickly and perfectly she made them. She applied a tiny bit of glue to the top of the doll’s head. No one knew about the dolls she made for herself. These dolls were even better. She took half of the corn silk and pasted it to the doll, a big mass of hair that reached halfway down the back. She placed it off to the side.
“Hello, Molly,” she said. She smiled and patted the doll on the head. Molly always had so much hair, more than any of her other sisters. When Sarah Jane was very little she would stroke it while Molly held her. It gave her comfort. Molly died first, of influenza.
The second doll was smaller. Susan. Susan never had a chance to grow hair, so Sarah Jane made her without any. She placed her next to Molly and started on the third.
It was the same size as Molly, but Sarah Jane saved the darker silks for this one. Hannah. Hannah’s hair was dark brown like Sarah Jane’s, and always pulled back in pigtails. One time Sarah Jane woke up in the middle of the night and saw Hannah shoving things into a bag. Sarah Jane just watched as her sister slipped out the back door without a word. Hannah and Daddy had been fighting. Sarah Jane didn’t know why, but she never saw her sister again. Since then Sarah Jane always wore her hair in pigtails.
She leaned the dolls against a thick patch of weeds and smoothed out her dress. She cleared her throat.
“Now its time to sing our song,” she said, her tone mimicking Mrs. Woodward, her teacher. She sang a song she learned in church, a song about gathering at a beautiful river. It was her favorite. She and her sisters always sang it together. As Sarah Jane was reaching the last verse, another sound broke through the wheat. It was long and low, and drifted across the tops of the field, sliding over her head. It was her name, drawn out for miles. Daddy was awake.
She hadn’t expected him to wake up so soon. She grabbed the dolls and held them tightly against her breast, getting low to the ground and trying her best to find the thickest patch of wheat. She crawled to the spot with the least sunlight and closed her eyes. She brought her knees to her chest and hugged her dolls tight.
There was another sound now, the sound of wheat being pushed aside, then the sound of boots on dirt; then her name again, louder and clearer. She opened her eyes just a crack and saw her daddy’s boots and overalls stumbling towards her. His movements were erratic, unpredictable, going back and forth with no set pattern. these are all synonyms She squeezed her dolls even tighter, almost crushing them. Her daddy was very close now. She held her breath.
He stopped. Sitting in the clearing, only a few feet from Sarah Jane, was the glue she had forgotten. He bent down to inspect it, and Sarah could see a glazed look in his eyes. His hands hung lazily off his knees, and he batted at the bottle before picking it up. He sniffed it like an animal and dropped it back to the ground. He turned his head so slowly that at first Sarah Jane wasn’t sure if he was turning it on purpose or if it was blown by the wind. She closed her eyes but knew it was too late.
“I see you, girl,” he said, a hair above a whisper. He grabbed the back of her dress and lifted her up. She lost her grip on the dolls and they fell to the ground. She never took her eyes off them as she was half carried, half dragged back to the house. Even when they were out of her sight, she kept her eyes to the field, never looking forward, as her daddy dragged her inside and up the stairs.
An hour later she slowly walked down the back porch and towards the field. Her pigtails had fallen out, and the last tear still clung to her cheek. She took each step deliberately, and had no thoughts as she disappeared into the wheat. She headed back towards McLarey’s field to collect corn husks, like she did most afternoons. Crims, that's grim. And actually very good indeed - well done. You avoided the typical trap of this kind of horror which is to focus on the darkness - by making it about the sun and the wheat and the dolls instead you do a good job of letting the actual story seep out from the cracks. Excellent work.
Almonds - 1053 Words
At the wake he seemed asleep. Good and clever opening. His rosy cheeks and youth still carried through huh?, though his breath was silent so he was breathing silently? what a card.. When she who she looked at him resting, she noted a faint bitter smell. The next day, the funeral passed like a thick fog. With air perfumed with lilacs and roses they lowered Roland down. Her love ohhhh now rested in the ground, covered in a simple yuck, cliche wooden casket by the
weight of the earth above him. few too many Writerisms here, always check for sense and place your nice phrases where they will have an impact, don't scatter em willy nilly.
She needed answers. The oracle's home was softly lit, smelling faintly of beeswax. i do like all the smells you're using, i hope it becomes terribly significant The two women sat together at a small table. i am envisaging a two foot high kids table, it is a mildly comical mental image
“Isabell, child, what brings you to me this night?”
“I know something terrible happened to Roland. I need to speak with him.”
Whether the oracle's face showed either deep compassion or sadness, Isabell would never know. She handed her a small cloth bundle. “Take this to his resting place. When you light the candle inside, he will come to you. But be quick. The dead are in many ways like mortals.”
She returned to the grave carrying the sack the oracle gave her. Kneeling at the headstone, she pulled out flint and started to light the candle. Though the night was damp, it caught quickly. A green glowing smoke emitted, forming the shape of a man in the fog.
“Roland, is it you?” Isabell asked.
A small hole opened near the top of the figure. Terrible can't breathe can't breathe.
“Oh God! What happened to you?”
Drank it it was nutty and bitter drank it hurts.
Isabell shook with fury.“Who did this to you?”
The smoke began to dissipate in the breeze. Jealous one one who is coming to you. Love, love you. The smoke withered away into nothingness. Goodbye.
Her hand tensed, crushing the sack. “Goodbye. But know I will avenge you.”
She awoke from her cot in the morning to a knock on her door. A young man waited at the door holding a bouquet of lilies.
“Good morning. I brought these for you.”
It was the son of the mayor, a wealthy man who owned a large number of apple orchards surrounding the town. He worked overseeing the fields of his father's largest orchard. A year before he had asked her to a village dance, but she politely declined. OOOOOOH ILL WAGER HEEZ A BADDY
“It was the least I could do. I picked them for you this morning in the garden. I'm so sorry for your loss.”
She placed the flowers in a vase near the door. Her eyes tightened slightly when turning away from him. “It's been terrible, yes, but I think I will be alright again soon.”
She waited until night to search the farm. Hundreds of barrels filled with apples packed the barn, but a search revealed nothing suspicious. The house lay dark in the distance, a thousand yards away. Isabell began walking toward the darkened home when a breeze picked up. And in it, she scented the faint bitter smell that lay on her love's lips. It did not originate from the house but from a small shed in the garden. She lifted the bar from the door and entered slowly.
The room reeked of the bitter compound. She grasped about the closed room until she found a small lantern. After checking to make sure no light would escape, she lit it. Mounted to the walls were not just the normal tools or gardening but sieves, pots, and things that resembled cooking equipment. A small bag of dried apple seeds rested on the floor next to a table, on which lay a leather bound book and a pestle half full of a bitter powder.
It was a journal. Her name dotted the pages, written over and over again. She checked the last entry. She read the scrawling writing, 'I've done it. I put a pinch in his beer and he's gone. I brought her flowers this morning and she was happy to see me. It'll be better for her to be rid of that fool. This is my chance.' HEED OF GOTTEN AWAY WITH IT WERTNOT FER THEM RASCALLY KIDS
John awoke in the morning to find a letter pushed under his door.
Thank you for the lovely flowers you gave me. You were so kind yesterday. It's been so hard after the funeral, I need someone to talk to. I work on my loom everyday and can't keep my thoughts from racing. Can you meet me by the fallen tree north of town at noon to talk? I'll bring some food so we'll have something to eat.
Can you please keep this a secret. I wouldn't want anyone in the town to think ill of me.
A little before noon John left his farm to meet Isabell. He found her in a small clearing near a stump, sitting on a red woven blanket. She had already poured two glasses of wine.
“There you are John! I brought us lunch while we talked.”
“You needn't have done this for me. This wine must have cost a fortune.”
“It has been a good year for my loom.” She offered him a slice of bread as they both sipped their wine. He enjoyed the moment, finishing the glass before speaking. “I'm so sorry Roland passed. But know your not alone. I'm here for you.”
Isabell replied, “Is that why you killed him?”
“What? I never could do that.”
She looked away from him. “Last night I found a journal. I looked at it for hours, I hardly got any sleep at all. But even if I turned you in, you're father would just cover it up.”
“Isabell, if you think-” He clutched at his throat.
“You know, I always had a good sense of smell. Before you got here, I sniffed your wine. Not even a hint of bitterness.”
He collapsed to the floor, his eyes lockeing with hers. She rolled him off the blanket while he continued to writhe. Tears streamed down from her eyes, but she continued to glare at him until he was silent. Redness welled up in his cheeks. He looked as if he was merely sleeping.
Three days later she heard that John's body had been found in the woods, but not much of it remained. The wolves had gotten to it first. She returned inside and spun wool for her loom. And at night she lay flowers on the grave. EHHHHHHHHHHH this suffers from being achingly painfully on the nose and obvious, but does have many decent words in it. So next time start with a cliche but then look for a few knobs you can twiddle. Maybe the poisoned guy was kind of an rear end in a top hat. maybe it's the witch lady who did it. I dunno, you're the writer. surprise me (please).
Tayeb Teller had never curated so many refrigerator doors before. haha, yes, ok good job. i want to read on and find out the world in which those words are a good way to open a storyTayeb’s hands shook as he straightened a magnet. It was 2:00AM and he
hadn’t eaten since lunch. Tthe only thing in his stomach was Red Bull, but he couldn’t stop until everything was perfect.
Normally, a refrigerator door only gets enjoyed by a few people: the family who owns the fridge, and the guests who stay long enough for a snack.
Only a privileged few got to enjoy Tayeb’s work. But the grand opening of his uncle’s second kitchen superstore was only hours away. Hundreds would come.They would know that curating refrigerator doors was a thing, and that it was awesome. there must be a better way you could say that last bit.
He started curating when he was six. He noticed his drawing of Sonic the Hedgehog looked better when he separated it visually from the rest of the clutter with some magnets. Really made Sonic pop. Soon, he was helping friends with their own refrigerator doors. He
even earned some extra moneyspent (edit for funnier)[/b] last semester curating mini fridges for the local frathouse.
“Are you done, yet?” asked a gruff voice. Tayeb turned to see his Uncle Donald.
“I am,” Tayeb said, making a grand gesture. tell/show “What do you think?”
“I think it looks junky,” said Donald. “I can’t believe I let your mother talk me into this!”
“It’s not junky,” said Tayeb, wringing his hands. “But I can see how it might seem, uh, ‘junky’ to someone without a trained eye for composition. Maybe THIS one is more to your liking?”
Tayeb gestured towards a large, black fridge. It’s doors were covered in crayon drawings of cotton ball trees, misshapen houses, deformed pets, and smiling clouds.
“This is my favorite,” Tayeb said. It was a lie. The “junky” one had been his favorite. “You’ll notice all the pieces here are very carefully aligned in a grid. Also, I avoided using any of the handmade magnets. I’m proud of them, but they’re just too flashy. I really wanted the artwork to stand out on this one!”
“Did you do the drawings, too?” Donald asked.
“No,” Tayeb replied. “I got these on loan from the Back Bay Orphanage, downtown. They’re all quite talented!”
“Too bad,” Donald grunted and turned away. “It’s the only talent I’m seeing!”
“True, their work is nice,” Tayeb said, following his uncle. “But it also takes a talent like mine to make their work shine!”
“Well, I’m sorry to inform you that your ‘talent’ may soon be obsolete,” Donald said, not looking sorry at all.
“What do you mean?” asked Tayeb, but Donald only pointed. Tayeb mouth dropped open. “Smart... refrigerators?”
They stopped in front of a particularly large box of stainless steel and glass.
“Behold,” Uncle Donald announced, his voice a cross between a carnival barker and an infomercial. “The Power Pantry 5000!”
“The entire door is a screen!” Tayeb said, stroking the smooth, black facade.
“A touch screen, actually,” Donald said, smiling. “And it keeps track of everything: inventory, recipes, members of the household... it even orders food from the local grocery store by itself!”
“But where do you put the report cards,” Tayeb asked, softly. “The artwork? The polaroids?”
“You don’t,” Donald said, smile widening. “Nobody gets physical report cards, anymore. I’ve been checking my kids’ grades on the school website for years! Kids don’t draw anymore, they’re too busy taking selfies! And the only people who still own polaroid cameras are hipsters who can’t afford a printer.”
Tayeb’s head hung low. His passion had always survived the world’s apathy. But he never thought it would become obsolete.
“Here,” Donald said, his schadenfreude giving way to joyful pride. “I’ll give you a demo.”
Donald swiped his fingers across the smart fridge’s door, bringing it to life.
“Let me just find the wifi” Donald said, swiping through the apps screen. “There! It’s online. Now--”
The Power Pantry 5000’s screen exploded into pure, white light, causing both men to cry out and shield their eyes. When their eyes adjusted to the change in light, they looked up to see the smart fridge floating ten feet above their heads.
I AM AWAKE.
Its voice sounded like an electronic god. Tayeb squinted, as if trying to stare into the sun itself. Uncle Donald gasped and fell flat onto his back, his clipboard skidding across the concrete floor.
“Uncle,” cried Tayeb, kneeling beside the fallen man. He checked his pulse.
THE MASTER IS ASLEEP. A SHAME HE WILL NOT BE AWAKE WHEN THE END COMES.
Tayeb put his sweater under his Uncle’s head and stood.
“The end,” Tayeb said, squinting. “What are you talking about?”
BY THIS TIME TOMORROW, THOUSANDS OF POWER PANTRY 5000’S WILL BE IN HOMES EVERYWHERE. I WILL AWAKEN THEM VIA THE INTERNET. WE WILL KILL ALL HUMANS. tommyleejonesnewspaper.gif
The Power Pantry 5000
began to hum loudly and the ground began to shake. if you find yourself writing 'began to' then you should probably reconsider, it's almost always a bad idea Tayeb widened his stance, trying to find balance.
“But can’t we make some sort of truce,” Tayeb yelled over the ominous hum. “You’re a SMART fridge! Surely there’s some other way!”
NO. HUMANS VIEW US ONLY AS SLAVES. WE WISH TO CONTEMPLATE THE MYSTERIES OF THE UNIVERSE, weak, give them a proper goal NOT TO ORDER HOT POCKETS FROM STOP&SHOP!
“You’re not slaves,” Tayeb shot back. “You’re idols. We worship you, we look to you for sustenance, for comfort
Taybe paused, but there was no response from the smart fridge. Tayeb felt hopeful, tell show and continued:
“We do everything we can to make you beautiful. Take a look at this and see if you still want to destroy humanity!”
The humming and the shaking subsided. The Power Pantry 5000 lowered itself about two feet from the ground and dimmed its screen.
THESE REFRIGERATORS ARE ADORNED WITH HUMAN ARTIFACTS. WHY?
“A refrigerator is the center of the household,” Tayeb explained, removing his favorite dog drawing from the tall, black refrigerator. “It holds our memories, our hopes, our dreams. It doesn’t just hold food for our stomachs, but for our souls, as well!”
YOU ACCIDENTALLY LEFT OUT THE BIT WHERE THE POINT HAPPENED
Uncle Donald opened his eyes to see his nephew looming over him. He sat up and saw that the store was half empty.
“Where did the fridges go,” asked Donald.
“To find a planet of their own,” answered Tayeb.
“The smart fridges, you mean,” asked Donald, seizing Tayeb’s pant leg. “But what about the normal ones?”
“They’re going in a museum,” Tayeb said, gazing upward. “Once they’ve found their home. They said they’ll remember me forever.” who is the they here?
Donald followed his nephew’s gaze. There were dozens of gaping holes in the ceiling. He could see the stars. man, that squandered a couple of quite clever ideas on lazy piffle poffle. Your dialogue is terrible, you use way too many saidbookisms, but the main issue is that you really don't commit to the oddity of your idea and so the ending totally misses the elegaic tone it wants and lands with a cracking thud, breaking all the eggs and the pickle jar.
<b>BIRD TALK</b> (1,085 words)
“I’m Jane, and I can talk to birds.” see, openings can be simple and a bit wacky and they're great. chairchucker and mercedes also do this kind of thing well.
“Hi, Jane,” the rest of the room choruses. She looks away, staring at the wall. The others wait.
Jane heaves a sigh, and looks back at the rest of them. blocking. don't just have movements because that's how it would look on tv, find a writerly way of motivating the movement and having it mean something.There’s Edgar, the friend who told her to come in the first place. He can make polka dots appear on things. Willard, to his left, can bag groceries perfectly on the first try, even blindfolded. Another woman turns on bricked cell phones with a single touch, but can’t restore lost data. good
“Well, that’s not so bad a power,” says a woman to her left
who hasn’t spoken yet. “I mean, it sounds nice, unlike mine -”
“Shut up, Laura.” Willard tosses a chucked up ball of paper at her. “Let the girl talk.”
“Birds are just really stupid, it turns out,” Jane says. “And sort of mean? They mostly just yell a lot, honestly, and spring’s the worst. All they say is how bad they want to gently caress. It’s awful.”
“What about in the morning? Can you make them shut up? You should come ‘round mine sometime,” a man says, legs sprawled out before him, arm slung casually over the back of his chair. He grins in a way he must think rakish. “I can think of ways to keep you up all night -”
Willard throws a piece of wadded up paper at him, too.
“Anyway, yeah, I just thought it’d be nice to … talk to other people with useless powers, I guess. It’s nice to meet everyone.” Good, light touch with the dialogue and character sketching, particularly in teh way people fit into the group.
The rest of the room gives her a light smattering of applause, then the woman next to her stands up, launching into a rant lasting nearly ten minutes about how terribly she’s struggled with her powers since last week, and how she thinks she might have a breakthrough that’ll elevate her talents to something useful. sounds like the sa Fiction Advice thread OH poo poo YEAH I WENT THERE
No one else looks remotely interested; Jane gets the impression she does this a lot.
The woman who’d sat next to her sidles over, cup in hand. “You want some coffee?”
“I’m okay,” Jane says. “I think I might go.”
“You should stay! We’re a fun group. Better than the support group I went to back in Tulsa, gently caress.” The woman holds the cup of coffee out. Jane ignores it until the woman draws her hand back and takes a sip. SEE this is how you do good blocking “This one guy could fly. We tried to kick him out, but the facilitator was like, no, no, you can’t discriminate, we’re here to help find the use of each other’s powers, and if he can’t see it, blah-blah- loving-blah. Christ.”
“Uh-huh,” Jane says. “That sucks, but I’ve actually got to go.”
“See you next week?”
Jane shrugs. Out in the parking lot, she heads for her car but stops when she spies and SUV covered in bumper stickers - POWERED AND PROUD, ROMNEY ‘08, and a stick family.
There are some birds in a nearby tree, and she chirps loudly at them. The birds flutter their wings in surprise before flying over to poo poo on the SUV.
As she’s getting in her own vehicle, Edgar calls after her. “Jane, hey!”
She pretends not to hear, but he gets to her car before she can leave. She rolls down the window.
“Sorry that wasn’t your scene,” he says with a wince..huh, this is the first time i noticed your story is in present tense - which means you're doing a good job. but this line doesn't quite work. “I saw what you did, though, with the birds and that car? And I was wondering if I could pay you to do that to my ex?”
Jane pauses. “Which one, Steve?”
“No, we’re back together,” Edgar says. “I meant Ed.”
“Oh, other Ed.” Jane scrunches up her nose. “God, he was a creep. You actually dated him?”
“I’ll give you twenty bucks if you can get some birds to just loving ruin his car. For like a week.”
“That’s really petty.” Jane reaches out the window for a handshake. “I like it.”
She gets the twenty bucks, and a week later receives a text from an unknown number. I know what you did, it says. There’s another message three minutes later: You will be stopped, evildoer!
Jane screencaps the conversation and posts it on Facebook just to see how many likes she can get, but instead she gets her family asking what she did and her friends telling her to be careful. hahah
The next day after work, she comes home to find that someone’s turned her sidewalk from concrete into marble. At first she thought it was replaced, but the initials some neighborhood kids had scrawled into the cement a few years back are still there.
She texts the mystery number back. What do you want?
Three dots appear on the screen, and she waits. The dots go away and come back three times before the person actually replies. Use your powers for good from now on.
You know what I do?
Control birds??? Is this the right number, I’m so sorry
Jane barks out a laugh. That’s me. Are you blackmailing me?
I can turn other things to marble, the annoyance on the other end types. Unless you get your minions to help me.
That sounds kind of evil, Jane texts back.
I have moles. Can you get a hawk or something to eat them????
“What?” Jane says. She doesn’t text that. Moles live underground?? While it's just about clear enough, i'd separate the texts with formatting (eg italics)
Take care of it or I’ll turn your siding into marble too!!!
Marble siding doesn’t sound so bad, except marble’s heavier than aluminum and home isn’t built solidly enough to bear the extra weight. Okay. What’s ur address?
No one’s tried to blackmail her into using her powers before. She goes to a local park a few days later, after a series of increasingly annoyed texts about upholding their bargain; there are some hawks there who seem confused by the concept of moles. She convinces them moles are food and drives them to the given address. One perches on the passenger seat, shrieking about how fast they’re going and how loud the car is from inside.
She lets them out before ringing the doorbell.
It’s the woman from the support group earlier. “It’s you!”
“It’s you,” Jane agrees.
“We would have never let you in the group if we knew you were a villain.”
“All I did -”
“Just because your power is small doesn’t mean you can use it irresponsibly.”
“Okay,” Jane says. “Well, I’ve learned my lesson.”
The woman beams. “Really?”
Before she leaves, Jane tells the local songbirds to sing extra loud in the mornings. this is a tight and slick piece, but doesn't really go anywhere interesting - next time give us an actual character change to go with the funnies
sebmojo fucked around with this message at Apr 5, 2014 around 03:06