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  • Locked thread
CommissarMega
Nov 18, 2008


WeLandedOnTheMoon! posted:

prooooooooooooooooooompt

This. Also, criiiiit.

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Some Guy TT
Aug 30, 2011


You know what, sure. If anybody wants to give me a crit in kind, go ahead, but that whole story was a gimmick and I'm frankly a little surprised it didn't get a DM. And I'll take requests too why not.

Also why did you all use elephants the other two choices were perfectly good. Was it because you had to wait a whole 17 hours before another option showed up? At the risk of my own sanity I'll preemptively volunteer to judge the next round just in case Meeple decides on a similar format.

CommissarMega posted:

This guy in a fantasy setting talks like that rear end in a top hat philosopher everybody knew in college and takes way too long to tell a simple story about a dragon and a princess even though he claims to be practical. Also twist ending beasteality.

This is not a story. This is a ramble. Almost nothing actually happens- the narrator just describes how the things that did happen prove what a cool guy he is for thinking outside the box and it's really annoying. You somehow managed to write shitdidnthappen.txt in a fictional story about dragons. What's worse, the only one of your elements that's properly integrated into the narrative is the missing person. The blind philosopher anecdote? Contributes nothing. The phrase? Just a lazy stupid jab at normalcools, and practically the only content you have is a rephrase of that dumb idea. Your main character is detestable, but the writing never admits it, which made me really, really dislike your story.

Starter Wiggin posted:

Plubert the Elephant wants to have fun but elephants aren't allowed to have fun they're too big and clumsy. Then he meets a crocodile and they all live happily every after.

You basically wrote a children's book story without the children's book. Which isn't bad, exactly, but it really makes the whole product kind of scream "this only works with pictures when read to a small child!" Your elements are well-integrated, and the prose is appropriate- except for the pure and untamed line. That diction is so obviously tonally dissonant from everything else in the story it's really pretty embarrassing. Also whatever joke you were trying to make with that subtitle, I have no idea what it was supposed to be.

D.O.G.O.G.B.Y.N. posted:

João reads postmodern literature about sex and reminisces about the good old days when Bertha the elephant used to squirt all over him. Then he finds out Bertha's being put down, assumes a conspiracy, and beats the crap out of a white guy until João gets a chance to feed Bertha alcohol.

Look, I hate the white man as much as anybody but I don't think they're killing the elephants of our childhood because (???). And even if they were murdering our elephants João's a bit of a pretentious weirdo. If the narrative wasn't deliberately structured to make him look heroic I'd have assumed he was some kind of caricature of oversexed pseudointellectuals. And again with the "pure and untamed" line! Why did so many of you pick this? It sounds ridiculous. You can't use it as catharsis. Well you could, it would just require a lead character that doesn't come off as a twat. Also, name him in the first paragraph. Don't wait until the fourth one for no reason.

RunningIntoWalls posted:

Some guy had a bet with his wife that he once played hockey. He goes to the attic to find the tape. He does so, wins the bet, then goes back to the attic because memories.

Your main problem here is that you start in the middle of the action for absolutely no reason. Who cares if George is looking for a hockey tape? What's at stake? And if we're supposed to care that he wants to go back to the attic and look at more stuff, it would help if you gave us some idea what it is that he's feeling so nostalgic about. There's all this relevant context that you could be giving us, but you chose not to because...? Seriously, this was only 530 words. There was no excuse for this story to have such a skeletal structure.

Thalamas posted:

Cora's longtime friend just died and she is an uncooperative wreck. By the way she lived a totally interesting and cool life. Also therapy is for losers just have your daughter come do dictation for you.

I know that probably wasn't the moral you were trying to get across here but it's really difficult to read your story any other way. Both Cora and Susan are these totally empowered women who live confident independent lives, except that Cora's apparently not very good at coping with death. I'd expect someone her age would be used to it by now- could it be that she had a very special connection to Tia? That would have been a lot more relevant and interesting than capsule summaries of their random adventures. You're so focused on the resolution you never really set up much of a conflict. The ending, as a result, is pretty empty.

Djeser posted:

This guy decides to follow Sir John on his quest for the divine rear end on a lark. Eventually he realizes this was a pretty dumb idea.

I kind of get the feeling you had about the same revelation your nameless narrator did. The divine rear end sounds like a good concept, but there isn't really anywhere for it to go aside from the place you took it, and it's just not much of a ride. A story from Sir John's perspective might have been more interesting- at the very least it would have been incomprehensible and weird, which is really about the only kind of the story the divine rear end deserves in the first place.

God Over Djinn posted:

Charlie leaves the prospect of factory work to join the circus. This was a pretty dumb idea.

I was a little disappointed that Charlie wasn't more outraged at PETA for destroying his honest livelihood. Characterization like that would have made his moment at the elephant sanctuary a lot more humbling. Really, that should have been the focus. The whole thing about his running away from home and eventually reconciling with his mother just isn't that interesting, mostly because there's no context- we start out at the grocery store and then, well off to the circus we go! The problems in the narrative are mostly due to a lack of space, but then it was your decision to write two mostly unrelated ideas into the same story.

Cheneyjugend posted:

Dragons worldbuilding Muototsu worldbuilding blackfire worldbuilding.

I'm sure it's been said before and will no doubt be said again, but please don't fill your short story with worldbuilding. You already don't have much space to work with. Get us characters we can care about, and have them do stuff. By the time something actually happened here I was so thoroughly bored that I just wasn't even paying attention anymore. You prompt this in the second person, but who is this story relevant to? Do I live in the same world as Tenno? Think about your reader, and whether they'll actually care about what you write, before you actually put it down. Also, whatever psychological horror was supposed to be in here, I missed it.

Kalyco posted:

First there are dreams. Then it's the military. Then archaeological stuff. Then an elephant.

I'm genuinely not even sure how each of your segments is supposed to relate to one another. We're jumping around this stuff practically at random. If I knew who John or Mina were or what they were doing maybe I could care about what happens to them but I don't. You keep a lot of information about the proceedings secret but that just makes it boring and confusing to piece together when you finally start to explain things. Don't use an opening like that unless you're actually going to go to the dreamworld, because otherwise it contains no relevant information at all.

Phobia posted:

This farmer thinks wolves are destroying her fields but it's actually Oni which are like Zaibatsu. Plot twist it was actually an elephant yokai.

This would be a lot more engaging if I had the slightest idea what Oni, Zaibatsu, or yokai are. Given the context of the story it really doesn't sound like this would be that difficult to explain- just a sentence would do it, and go a long way to alleviating the confusion. You spend a lot of time explaining why the Western dude is a shaman but almost none on stuff that actually matters to the procession of the narrative or its eventual conclusion. Also, I genuinely have no idea how this is supposed to involve humor. I don't see anything here that even looks like the vague outline of a joke, at least not in written form. Visual would be different, but you're not drawing a picture you're writing words.

Grizzled Patriarch posted:

This guy and his wife go out for a vacation at some old cabin somewhere. He goes to the grocery store and hears about a missing girl. Plot twist they're in a horror movie.

In order for a story to use psychological horror there has to be, you know, fear something. We only get the impression that something bad will happen right when the story's about to end. Why did the killer kill the girl? Why does he want to kill Francis and June? Who are Francis and June and why do we care about them? So many basic questions completely unanswered, and yet you still managed to use up almost the entire allotted word count. No wonder you got a DM.

Some Guy TT fucked around with this message at May 13, 2014 around 08:47

Meeple
Dec 28, 2009


Well that wasn't supposed to happen.

THUNDERDOME XCIII: The wind is rising, so we must try to live

I went to see The Wind Rises at the cinema this weekend, so now you can all suffer for my terrible taste in films.

Write me a story about flight. Powered flight, unpowered flight, birds flying, spaceflight, flights of fancy. Let your imaginations soar in the wind before crashing to the ground in the mangled wreckage of your terrible prose. I also want stories about someone with a dream, a life goal, a glorious aspiration. They may or may not achieve it, at least in the span of your stories, but they should have it.

Stories about someone who always wanted to fly/design a plane/be a bird will be penalised for cliché as appropriate. The inherent tragedy of the conflict between an engineer's artistic integrity and the commercial reality of wartime industry is optional (that means discouraged).

Judges
Me
Some Guy TT
Sitting Here

Deadlines
Welcome back to UK times, suckers.
Signup deadline: 9am BST Saturday 17th, or whenever I get online after that
Entry deadline: 9am BST Monday 19th

Word count: 1,200 words

Those who fly too close to the sun
Entenzahn
Meinberg
Kalyco
Jeza
Starter Wiggin
leekster
Phobia (self-imposed flagellationflash rule: 900 words)
Gau
theblunderbuss
kurona_bright
Grizzled Patriarch
sebmojo
ReptileChillock
Bushido Brown
God Over Djinn
Malefic Marmite
WeLandedOnTheMoon!
docbeard
Fib
Cheneyjugend
Nethilia
Nitrousoxide
Tyrannosaurus
Benny the Snake
crabrock
Bad Seafood

Meeple fucked around with this message at May 17, 2014 around 08:22

Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

What will you say when
your child asks:
why didn't you invest in
Thunderdome?


In.

Meinberg
Oct 9, 2011

ICE-MEIN


I do not make any promises regarding R. Kelly references, but I am in.

Kalyco
Apr 4, 2013


To make up for last week's embarrassment, I must fly IN!

Tyrannosaurus
Apr 12, 2006

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

XCII CRITS: Round One

If you don’t think people judge you by the gifts you show up with then you’re loving stupid as hell. So I'm judging those, too. Unless I don't.

Fyi, YGW = "Your Gift Was"

Cache Cab - Dare to Be a Better Father
You know, if I wanted to open up a dialogue with someone about drugs I sure as poo poo wouldn’t use this garbage as a launching point.

CommissarMega - DRAGONSLAYER
YGW: Great! Well done.

Next time you should write an actual story rather than a 1400 word treatises on “ME KING GOOD KING.” If you had some good ideas you buried them under the pompous douchebaggery of your narrator and writing style. This just reeked of look at how oh so clever my world building is. Especially when you ALL CAPS YELLED TO MAKE A POINT.

I mean, come on, the king is irritating (at best) when I think he supposed to be awesome. The way he/you dictates everything to the bard (the audience stand in) makes your reader (me) hate the king (and you).

This wasn’t horrific enough to warrant a DM in my eyes but I still disliked it immensely.

Meinberg - Monochrome
YGW: A surprising hit. I kind of groaned when I first saw it but it was well utilized by many people this week. So… turns out you did a good job! I’m not pissed about it! Congrats!

Alright Bergy, you submitted this one with days to spare. I don’t know if this was done because you had real life poo poo to attend to but if not… you should have spent those extra days looking over your story and making it better. The whole grayness infection thing is a neat little idea. Weird but in a good way. However, you don’t play around with colors enough. There’s not a clear demarcation of what white, black, gray, and red symbolize. I’m not sure if you meant for there to be symbolism to ‘em but you use them enough that there loving should be.

Also, I think you could cut the whole opening hit by a car thing. Does it matter why he’s in a hospital? Its also jarring (in retrospect) to have him leaving a bar and hearing laughter when all his flashbacks are about his wife wasting away. If I had to guess, your work probably evolved dramatically as you were writing it. Go back and change the beginning to reflect the new story.

Starter Wiggin - Plubert the Elephant
YGW: Good enough I guess

Okay, the most perplexing thing about this piece is… why the gently caress did you name the elephant Plubert? Every other creature is named after its sound. Strange choice.

Also- Ooh Ah isn’t onomatopoeia because its literally just a sound and not a word.

With that being said, you actually have a decent little children’s story going on here. You need to cut a bunch of it, though. Imagine putting this in a small book with some cute illustrations. You got too much excess! Too much that doesn’t add to the story and actually takes away from the style you were writing in. And your ending should be reworked. It falls a little flat as is. The whole “pure and untamed” bit sounds too brainy next to the rest of what you’ve written. I know you kept it word for word because of the prompt but you’d have been better served breaking the idea down and putting it into your own words.

Drunk Nerds - Elephant Assassin
YGW: Thank you for giving every idiot carte blanche to kill me with their humor. You rear end in a top hat.

Oh. Oh, you rear end in a top hat. Are you loving kidding me? You bring to the table humor and specify the non-lovely kind then in your first loving line you cover your narrator in literal loving feces. Did you go take a bunch of Cache Cab’s stupid pills, too?

I love that your story didn’t get much better after the first line. What a delight for me. I could practically hear your giggles as I read through your highschool hilarity. By highschool hilarity, I mean that this is the sort of poo poo I’d expect from a highschooler and it wasn’t funny at all. Hell, you even end on a punchline you didn’t take the time to properly set up. Awesome.

Again. Thanks for the jokes. Go gently caress yourself.

D.O.G.O.G.B.Y.N. - A present for Bertha

You either wrote a lovely story with a lot of issues or did a pretty decent Portuguese/English translation. Você fala português? Or am I reading too much into this? I’ll give you a more in depth critique once I know one way or the other.

Meeple - The Sound of Elephants
YGW: A+ for Awesome

Meeple, ya did some poo poo right, kid. You took your present and you actually created a world that was cool as gently caress. And you did it without bogging your story down with a bunch of stupid rear end world building poo poo that nobody cares about. You had a plot. There was a reason why the story was progressing. Your characters had motivations and were proactive rather than reactive. This is all nice.

But you did some poo poo wrong, too. There’s very little conflict. Henrik not wanting to go see the Wizard because its a wee bit of a hike is kind of… stupid. Link it to his obsession with his work or something and it builds character. Also, your piece is littered with saidisms. gently caress that poo poo. We had a prompt a while back about saidisms because they’re usually a really, really bad thing. Its okay to just use “said.” Don’t beat me over the head with goofy poo poo trying to avoid repeated “said.” And you got some odd phrasing in places. “Impossibly slender ceramic fingers” for instance. How are they impossibly slender? Look this back over and do some editing.

Nitpicky poo poo: I wish you had cut the first two lines and just opened with “What’s an elephant?” That’s a much funnier place to start and its intriguing to boot! Plus, the other poo poo is superfluous anyway. I also wish you had found a way to make the tech stuff more accessible to me. I got that the Wizard was really a cyborg or robot or whatever and that was cool. But there’s not a real world equivalent for all the stuff with his staff. I think your story would benefit if there was just a little bit more to connect it to.

Your ending made me laugh.

RunningIntoWalls - Rewind
YGW: boring

Your story was boring, too. But, then again, its not really a story now is it? A guy looks for a VHS tape and then watches it and then goes back up into the attic to look for some more poo poo. Nothing happens and that is a Very Bad Thing. The new good news is that you’re coherently putting sentences together. So that’s an improvement, right? Now you need to put those sentences together and tell an actual plot with an actual story. You tell me things are important, like winning or remembering or whatever, but don’t show me why they are important. This is another Bad Thing.

I don’t feel like this was a very creative take on the prompt but, then again, I don’t know your creative process. Maybe you were attempting something super creative and just failed. Next time you sign up, just try and tell a story. In your draft, make sure you have every important piece. Rising action, conclusion,etc. Aim for being technically correct before you worry about being good. Because right now you’re neither.

Maybe go to the ‘dome archives and try reading through the winning stories. See what they do and what you don’t. See if that helps. Keep coming back if you want to get better.

WeLandedOnTheMoon! - Hunters and Protectors
YGW: Yay! This gives people a lot of room for imagination

Waaaaaaaay too many commas. Ugh. Makes it tough to read. I know you were trying to do the whole like kid thing but it comes across more like babby writers first try. Its not magical enough to be fun. Its not real enough to be poignant. The message at the end doesn’t work because you didn’t build up to it (and its also pretty vague).

Thalamas - Emergency Contact
YGW: eh

I liked nothing about this. Its difficult to tell who is speaking. The dialogue is disjointed unnatural. Hell, the whole thing is disjointed. Stilted. Awkward. Things (memories and experiences and poetry) get added and discarded and forgotten. I had this down as potential loser. Somehow you squeaked by without even a DM.

Some Guy TT - Throwdown
wut

Nethilia - Mango Magic
YGW: An interesting choice

You used the cross-stitching like a boss. Well loving done. And you made the piece feel British colonial as a motherfucker. Really good stuff. Get a cool Kipling vibe off of it. I mean, this story really has all the makings of a great piece of work. Yet something falls flat about it. The relationship between the aunt and Amelia is wonderful. The relationship between Amelia and Moubani lacks something. I know why Amelia wants to be her friend. I don't know what Moubani's motivation for sucking her into the jungle is. That's what cost you an HM this week. Your plot moved along but I didn't always understand why.

Djeser - Concerning the Heresy of the Divine rear end and the Quest for the Divine rear end Incarnate
YGW: An appreciated attempt at redemption

This isn’t good but you kinda brought a turd to the party. So you did okay with what you had. The elephant thing was a weak tie-in as was pride. Both needed to be built up more to make a real impact.

leekster - Vacancy-718
YGW: Good. Well done!

Dude you gotta leave your reader more “breadcrumbs” to follow. I don’t just mean with mysteries either. With all writing. lovely authors seems to think that being vague and obtuse is the mark of good writing. Well, they’re lovely authors. Don’t listen to them. Don’t think that. You need to give me enough to follow the story, maybe make my own conclusions, and the bust out your big reveal. Here, you gave me almost nothing and your conclusion makes no loving sense. Was the detective attacked by the girl? Was this a trap by the kidnappers? I got no idea.

Jeza
Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.


In

Starter Wiggin
Feb 1, 2009

Screw the enemy's gate man, I've got a fucking TAIL!
Do you know how crazy the ladies go for those?


In.

leekster
Jun 20, 2013


I'm in.

D.O.G.O.G.B.Y.N.
Dec 31, 2011

THUNDERDOME LOSER

Tyrannosaurus posted:

D.O.G.O.G.B.Y.N. - A present for Bertha

You either wrote a lovely story with a lot of issues or did a pretty decent Portuguese/English translation. Você fala português? Or am I reading too much into this? I’ll give you a more in depth critique once I know one way or the other.

It's actually a lovely story, I apologize. I wrote it in English and did not mean anything overly special by choosing São Paulo as a setting (although it is a megalopolis with plenty of traffic and pollution issues). Now I'm curious as to the translation angle, though; could you elaborate a little further on it? (Sim, português é a minha língua materna.) Thanks.

D.O.G.O.G.B.Y.N. fucked around with this message at May 14, 2014 around 05:08

Lake Jucas
Feb 20, 2011


crabrock posted:

Loner Brawl

Over at the archive, we have a weird springy chart that connects all the brawls. There is a giant mass of mess surrounding sebmojo the indiscriminate brawler, but there are also a few loners floating around the outside.



THIS MAKES ME ANGRY.

I would like to smush at least 2 of them together, if not more.

So I'm judging a brawl between 2 winners of loner brawls. First two to sign up get the slots. If this works out, I'll do another, until all them people is smashed together.

Eligible People:
Lake Jucas
Mister Morn
HiddenGecko
Symptomless Coma
Gau
CantDecideOnAName
The News at 5
Pseudosscorpian

Brawlers:
1) Lake Jucas
2)

Come on, any of you "winners" gonna brawl me?

Phobia
Apr 25, 2011

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


OCK.


All of my submissions have been lapsing much too close to the Word Count and this makes me very sad. So I am In this week with a self-imposed flash rule.

quote:

Word count: 1,200 900 words

My first week was set at 900. I'll try my best not to screw this in the pooch.

Gau
Nov 18, 2003

I don't think you understand, Gau.


Actually in this week.

theblunderbuss
Jul 4, 2010

I find dead men rout
more easily.


I'm in.

kurona_bright
Mar 21, 2013


I'm in!

Grizzled Patriarch
Mar 27, 2014

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




Well poo poo, honor must be restored. In.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

They call me Critting Here round these parts...


Cache Cab

*sitting here takes bong rip*

hmmm

*sitting here continues to take contemplative bong rips*

*sitting here blows a bong rip in cache cabs face*

lol


CommissarMega

Wow, you really shoehorned the elephant in. Like, I almost wrote an angry rant just about your first paragraph. But then I read on, and I almost feel like you would have been better served if you’d said you were using my judge gift (embarrassing defeat, cathartic triumph). But no, instead we get this quippy, barely-relevant thing about a philosophy elephant.

I wanted to dislike this story more than I did. I don’t really *like* it, per se, but it does a couple clever things. I like that the main character is smart. I like that he takes action, causes change. I liked the story marginally better when it became apparent that he’s dictating all of this to a bard or a scribe or something.

I didn’t like how the story gets swallowed up in its own attempts at humor. A couple times, it lands. Most of the time, it’s too much. Too smug. At moments, it’s off-putting.

The basic idea behind the story, other than the elephant thing, is pretty okay.



Meinberg


quote:

Frank’s feet landed unsteadily onto the pavement

quote:

The laughter of the bar encroached from behind

quote:

He walked forward, slouched forward

These are a few chunks of your first paragraph. Look at them out of context. Do they feel awkward, repetitive, and possibly a little overwritten? It’s like you’re stumbling over words in your hurry to describe a scene. You need to stop and think harder about what each word is doing in your sentence, why it’s there, and if there is a better way to say what you’re saying. Stuff like “Frank’s feet landed unsteadily onto the pavement” just seems like an editing oversight. This story is pretty riddled with fumbling like the above lines, so I’d recommend going to the Farm for a line-by-line (or maybe someone here would trade crits).

As for the plot: So, this dude is drunk and gets hit by a car. FLASH his wife has cancer. FLASH he’s in the scary hospital. FLASH the world is dead. There is nothing that resolves all of the little vignettes you show us. I guess it’s supposed to be ambiguous, but I’m left feeling like I always feel after grimdark horror shorts where the protagonist dies (?) at the end, which is kind of empty and without even the gumption to be confused.

Slow down and think about the words you are using, don’t write a plot that is a straight line to the character’s bleak demise.


Starter Wiggin

Full disclosure: I don’t like kids’ stories. I don’t like stories that even approach the cadence of kids’ stories. This did nothing to challenge my expectations. An elephant wanders the woods finding stereotypically named animals doing stereotypical fabel things, then he meets another outcast and they become friends!!! Then all the animals of the forest learn that Sharing is Caring and Friendship is Magic and ascend to what I have to assume is some kind of glorious, post-scarcity animal utopia since none of these motherfuckers are busy hunting each other to survive.

At least your story actually featured an elephant. But then again he’s named Plubert, which is soooooooo lol random. Actually, that brings me to onomatopoeia. I feel like naming the animals after their respective animal sounds was a really lazy way to use onomatopoeia. I see that as a prompt element, I want to see some zip zing KAPOW swish kinda action, you know?


Drunk Nerds


Oh look another story involving an elephant how nice. I’ll bet there aren’t like 14 billion more elephant stories to read after this.

Okay, so. An elephant assassin. Nothing about this is eye-meltingly bad, but it reads like a long joke leading up to an eh punch line. I feel like you wrote the first line and decided it was so ball-achingly hilarious that you decided to give your protag a smarmy, cool-dude voice through the entire piece.

Maybe I’m a curmudgeon, but it wasn’t really funny or absurd enough to prevent me from thinking about how, like, gorillas would probably rip this dude apart, suit or not, or how bizarre it is that someone would go through the trouble of entrapping this guy just to assassinate him?

Can I just go back to the first line for a sec? Thanks. I feel like I’ve seen so many variations on “AS WACKY THING HAPPENED, HE LOOKED BACK ON HIS LIFE CHOICES AND” blah blah blah. Except like, the story leads us, in a very straight line, through the kinds of choices that your protag is making to end up covered in poop in an ape suit, but it’s the kind of humor that gets trundled out again and again, in spite of the fact that it’s sagging and is speckled with age marks. There’s no surprise. There’s no contradiction. Humor needs those things or it withers up and dies.

RIP funny


D.O.G.O.G.B.Y.N.

jesus christ how many stories are going to have elephants and also end with that one “wild and untamed” quote

gently caress

Anyway, this isn’t the worst. I was a little bit uggghhhghghgh about the dude wielding a giant post-modern tome as a flail, but hey, at least the elephant was actually important in more than a tangential way.

I like that it’s ambiguous--is the elephant really suffering from old age and pollution, or does the zoo really just want the extra space? I feel like your ending was spoiled a little by your chosen quote, but that’s more because of meta thunderdome reasons, since it was a popular choice from the list of prompt gifts.


Meeple

I liked this one enough to overcome my temporary hate of elephants, so good for you! Really, I thought it was pretty good. My only complaint was that the bit where the elephant appears in the air above the wizard’s house was kind of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Maybe my co-judges will have more to say, but I thought this was clean and resolved itself nicely. Also, for having three characters in a relatively small space, I think you did a good job giving them each their own voice and rough motive.


Running Into Walls

Well, this was evidently about elephants but there are no actual elephants. Which I almost want to thank you for. But then I realized that I was reading a vignette about a guy looking for something in his attic. You try to do some metaphor-type stuff with the whole gold miner thing, but it doesn’t really go anywhere. Your actual writing has some typos, passive phrasing, and general lumpiness. Get a line-by-line, remember that a story is supposed to be an arc, not just a straight line for things to happen on.


WLOTM

This really only had one big problem for me. You spend too much time in the real world. I get it, the dad is a drunk piece of poo poo, but his daughter is too little and innocent to think anything but the world of him. What I’m interested in is the stuffed elephant, and this magical loving tunnel where this kid goes and has some magical realist loss of innocence trip.

I feel like you crunched the ending because of word count. We all do it. But the beginning could have been compressed a lot. I mean, why even have the mom as a character? She only serves as a punching bag for Val’s dad, which only serves to further illustrate what we already know, which is that he’s a drunk piece of poo poo.

Your writing really shines in the later part of this piece. The beginning I’ve seen a million times before.


Thalamas

Hmm. I was kind of underwhelmed by what this ended up being. Like, when Susan is looking into the living room over Cora’s shoulder, I guess I felt like I was getting set up for something exciting or weird or whatever. But then they just sit and talk and have tea, and yes there was that thing at the hospital, but Cora’s BFF was dying so it’s all actually very understandable. There’s no real conflict, it’s just a vignette. It honestly reads like you fell into a vat of hallmark mother’s day essence on your way to writing this story.

Plus there’s weird parts like this:

quote:

Cora shattered the teacup she was holding when she dropped it to the ground in surprise.

Why not like, “Blah blah blah dialog.” A teacup slipped from Cora’s hands and shattered on the kitchen floor” or something.

There’s purple prose parts:

quote:

Cora cried, the sobs shaking her withered frame, each one a torn page

There’s tell-y parts:

quote:

Cora felt bittersweet pride when she looked at her corporate daughter, a woman who needed no one

And so on.


Some Guy ITT

:|


Nethilia

I like this. It’s neat, it’s sweet, and would take a lot more nitpicking than I am willing to do right now to crit. I will be surprised if it doesn’t at least get an HM, but who knows the whims of the judges? (future edit: This was discussed for an HM, but didn't quite hit the mark)

I don’t know why there’s a magical fruit or translucent elephant, but that’s ok for this story. Also, OH MY GOD the elephant wasn’t a harbinger of death and sadness or a metaphor ephemeral nature of life.


Djeser

What is even the point of this. Is there a divine rear end or not? What am i supposed to think/feel at the end of this? It’s not satire. It’s not even really humor. I don’t think it even knows what it is. I’m left feeling like there should have been an effable moral or “point” to the story, but there isn’t. It’s not even clear if your protagonist saw the Divine rear end, or what the Divine rear end might represent as a hypothetical addition to Christian cosmology.

The writing itself isn’t bad, but the story just plods along like a dying elephant and then it’s over.


Leekster

I don’t understand anything about this story. Okay so some girl is missing, and this detective is the only one who cares. I’m sorry, but if a minor disappeared, run-away or not, I think the police would get involved. But so okay, our detective is off on his lonesome looking for this girl. The time shift between Clive getting the case and going to the cave is jarring as all gently caress. You literally just start describing the cave after talking about some mining town.

Nothing after that really makes sense, this feels like a rough vignette from a longer story that I still don’t want to read. This suffers from the same issue that a lot of ‘dome stories suffer from, which is that it reads like you’re trying to describe a scene from a detective show. All the way down to the abrupt scene changes.

Stop watching stuff, read/write more stuff, is the prescription I am issuing you.


God Over Djinn

This is a longer crit than I initially was going to do. Don't say that being all like "a bloo bloo bloo " in IRC never got you anything.

I feel like the call home at the beginning was forced, like, it was mostly for the reader’s benefit. I felt like CharlieShane was propped up like a cardboard protagonist edit: antagonist. There’s good writing here, but this story pounds away at settings and emotions that other stories have already made me feel time and time again.

I get it. This guy doesn’t want to be forced into a dismal career like his father, so he runs off to cruelly poke and elephant, who is being forced into a dismal career as a performing animal.

I admit: I hate stories where the moral or point of the story is that ~home is where the heart is~ or the value of forgiving family or something like that. I’m not actually sure if that’s what you were trying to say, and I don’t actually hate this story, but I was pretty disappointed with the ending. It’s not really clear how the protagonist changed. Yeah, he stopped being stubborn and went home, and I’m sure he’ll never be a dick to elephants again, but since the story doesn’t give us enough time with either his family or the elephant, there’s no emotional gravity to either shift in his character.

You can tell a simple story beautifully, the problem here is that I think you reached for too many easy, emotionally evocative things, and because of that, none of them had the punch you wanted/needed.

You and WLOTM had almost the same problems this week, which is a shame because neither of them were bad stories. Just, the good stuff was all crammed in around irrelevant stuff.


edit: I got my wurds all mixed up when I wrote this, sorry

That Old Ganon

I’m not going to lie to you, if my 8 year old brother brought me this, I would be amused and impressed. But since it was written by what I presume to be an adult, I’m mostly just confused. Actually, I’m all the way confused.

Like, did a kid bite the guy or did a dog bite the guy? When/where did this happen that people would just abruptly attack a house with fire? Why does your protagonist go in after the kid that (I think) bit him?

The writing itself is all over the place. I’m not even sure what your first sentence is trying to describe.

I think that, going forward, you should stick to trying to describe simple scenes in a straightforward way, at least until your writing chops improve a bit.



Cheneyjugend


WORLDBUILDING

Okay now that I’ve said that…..WORLDBUILDING. Understanding the meaning/relevance of your short story is contingent on me caring about the huge amount of worldbuilding that you do initially. Me caring about the worldbuilding is contingent on me caring about the characters that exist in your world.

Unfortunately, you don’t have enough room in flash fiction to do all of that.

So but like, we have all of this worldbuilding, and since everything is in these big, plodding paragraphs, I almost missed when action actually started happening. And then you have to stop in the middle of your action to tell us about the blackfire or whatever.

Basically, not every single thing that you know about your world is important. What’s important is

THE STORY

In a story this short, you get ONE worldbuildy thing, and it better be something indispensable to your story. Everything else has to be easily understandable through implication.

at least there were no elephants!


Kaishai

The only thing I didn’t particularly like was how you incorporated the shards of mirror. Okay and well also the ending, the ending was kinda weak. Her “flying free” is not enough character development to leave me satisfied. So many stories where a woman is scorned end with said woman gallumphing off into the sunset, thinking about how great it is to be free and not chained down by no man.

Your writing is, of course, good. I just feel like, as with Djinn and WLOTM, you went for the easy feels. That’s right, I used the word feels.



Kalyco

Full disclosure: I haven’t ever done military duty, I’ve never been to the middle east. But every time I see these kinds of stories, I want to roll my eyes. This deviated from the usual “war is hell” thing, but I’m left feeling not sure what you were trying to say. There’s a lot about languages, there’s edgy commentary on combat in the middle east, there’s this weird dream poo poo with the sister and poetry….

Basically, there is too much of everything for me to care about any one thing, and on top of that there was the grim ending that left me feeling basically nothing.


Kurona_Bright


I’m honestly amazed that you are the only one who went for the “elephant in the room” take. I’m glad that you are the only one.

Okay so. This is a fairly benign little bit of story. It was jarring when I forgot Jessica was in the room, and then suddenly she reappears as a mouthpiece for Ravey. The only thing that ties this together at all is the headphones, which gives Ravey something to work through and be competent at even as she’s frustrated with her former friend and coming to terms with who she is as a person.

Beyond that, though, this kind of just felt like something I would find on any activist blogger’s blog. There’s nothing wrong with the subject matter, but the characters are not really interesting enough to carry this vignette.


Phobia


I think this falls short of the ‘actual humor’ requirement. It’s pretty goony, which is the unfortunate thing about being a goon and trying to write about anything remotely japanese. It doesn’t help that the protag himself is pretty goony.

The ending is basically Scooby Doo. Actually, you basically wrote an episode of Scooby Doo, complete with IT WAS ACTUALLY THE WIDOWER ALL ALONG. EXCEPT THEN THERE IS AN ELEPHANT STATUE ONLY IT’S A YOKAI and wait what anime is this?

…and since this is the last of the non-DQ crits, may I just say ELEPHANT GA SUKI DE WA ARIMASEN

Dôitashimashite~


--------------

DQ CRITS

Crabrock

Basically I would have loved this if the ending had done anything at all. Just like, one more little something would have clinched it for me. As it is, my offer to co-author a literary snuff-fic still stands.


Grizzled Patriarch

Uh, did you forget to tell a story? Literally every time this piece seems like it's going to go anywhere, it's like, oh nevermind. It's like the anti-story.

Sitting Here fucked around with this message at May 14, 2014 around 07:55

Some Guy TT
Aug 30, 2011


OK, I preemptively volunteered in the hopes of running some quality control, so before any of you get any bright ideas I'd like to make something clear-

I really, really am not in the mood for twist endings right now. Maybe it's just because of the bad quality of stories lately, but it seems like a lot of you are running poo poo narratives under the assumption that once the big reveal comes at the end, everything before it will seem clever. It ain't gonna happen. Maybe you'll be the special snowflake genius that actually pulls it off, but I wouldn't bet on it. Use a twist ending at your own risk.

By contrast, here's an idea I'd like to see more of-

Sitting Here posted:

stories about ultimate, embarrassing defeat becoming a cathartic triumph (if only in the eyes of the protagonist)

Exactly one person used this (not including me, but I used all of them so I don't count). And guess what. They got an Honorable Mention, only a hair away from winner in a week filled with lovely stories. Let that sink in for a moment. Ask yourself, "what would the judges rather see? My twist ending that's probably going to suck or something that requires actual creativity and narrative integration to properly pull off?"

edit: possibility for bonus points if you can incorporate the broader theme The Wind Rises has about how creativity may be awesome but at the same time it can be easily used to power death machines. Do not interpret that as carte blanche for terrible scifi worldbuilding.

double edit: The above does not contradict Meeple's instructions. Again, use your creativity. I like metaphors. A death machine can quite literally be anything. It doesn't even have to be a physical object.

Meeple posted:

The inherent tragedy of the conflict between an engineer's artistic integrity and the commercial reality of wartime industry is optional (that means discouraged).

Some Guy TT fucked around with this message at May 14, 2014 around 00:48

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002

aka sticklegs



Grimey Drawer

Some Guy TT posted:

OK, I preemptively volunteered in the hopes of running some quality control, so before any of you get any bright ideas I'd like to make something clear-

Some Guy TT posted:

quality control



most people who act like condescending dicks have written more than 0 good stories.

Some Guy TT
Aug 30, 2011


Just as a point of clarification- I'm not blaming the judges for the bad story quality. It's you writers who are ruining everything. Especially me. I had to protect the sanctity of the Thunderdome by not letting myself poo poo it up with another bad story this week.

dreadmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk

what was that crabrock and someguytt were you going to have a brawl what a splendid idea I shall judge

750 words on fighting. Due May 19, 1200 PST.

Also: in.

angel opportunity
Sep 7, 2004

Total Eclipse of the Heart

Some Guy

Some Guy TT
Aug 30, 2011


Don't hold back crabrock I want to be angry when I'm writing everybody's crits.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

This should go without saying, but we've seen it crop up a bit:

Don't put your story in quote tags

You will be DQed and your name shall not appear in The Book of Life.

Just a friendly reminder ^___^

ReptileChillock
Jan 7, 2014

by Lowtax


in with

dreadmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk

systran posted:

Some Guy

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010

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


Yo first round of loserbrawlers you've got like 4 hours what's keepin' ya.

Pseudoscorpion
Jul 26, 2011


Ephemeral
(991 words for the Paranormal Romance Loserbrawl)

“Hey, I'm Dave. Tell me a little bit about yourself.”

I reached across the table and grabbed the planchette. The triangular piece of polished rosewood glided gracefully across the Ouija, moving from letter to letter.

I'm Gertrude. I'm 133 years young, and I definitely don't want to be here.

I chuckled to myself, mostly from coincidence; I was in the same boat. Seemed like even in the afterlife, peer pressure is a force to be reckoned with. The planchette started moving again.

Let's cut out the bullshit and get to the point. I'm not interested in a relationship, I'm only here because one of my friends said it would be good to stretch my legs. The wood jumped in my hands, scrambling quickly. Er, you know what I mean.

“Yeah, I know the feeling. I'm not gonna lie, I came mostly for the sights. I mean, speed dating is one thing, but spooky speed dating? At the very least it's worth blogging about, right?” My heart sank as I realized what I had said. ”Uh, you know what a blog is, right?”

Dave, please. I may be old enough to be your great-great-grandmother, but that doesn't mean I don't know technology. Computers are prime haunting grounds, you know!

I smiled. Maybe this wouldn't be so bad.

***

She was the child of two English immigrants that moved here around the turn of the century. Did her civic duty as a Rosie during World War II. Died of mysterious circumstances around ten years later – and they're only mysterious because she wouldn't share the details. But she's been haunting household objects ever since. One thing was certain, though – she was a real chatterbug.

Dave, I should introduce you to my gal Martha sometime. She's a skeleton, and a real knee-slapper, too! Or she would be if she didn't live with so many mutts! While I definitely was enjoying reading her thoughts, holding onto the planchette for so long was killing my arms.

“I dunno, Gertrude. You're pretty funny yourself!” I said, laughing. “So, this is kind of awkward, but is there another way for you to talk? Corporeality does have its downsides.”

Hmm. You know Morse?

“Pardon?” I said.

Morse code.

“I know S-O-S but that's about it, I'm afraid.”

The chime of cutlery hitting glass filled the air, indicating it was time to start the next date.

“Gertrude, can we chat again later? I had a blast talking with you and want to do it again sometime.”

The planchette lie still for a few seconds, before slowly but surely moving over the two words I didn't want to read.

Good Bye.

***

“Dave, this is Magda. Magda, Dave.”

I shook her outstretched hand. Icy cold, and I definitely saw a waft of smoke from where a ray of setting sun grazed her bare wrist through the blinds.

“Vampire?” I asked, gesturing at her wrist.

“Dhampir, actually.” she replied with a thick Eastern European accent. “It just stings a little. I'll be fine.”

“Magda and I really hit it off during the speed date.” Jason said, wrapping his arm over her shoulder and pulling her close. Jason and I had been friends since high school, and it was his idea for us to sign on for the paranormal speed date. It was his idea to come back to his place for what he called a 'post-mortem'. Ugh.
“What about you? Surely you didn't leave empty-handed. Or maybe you did, eh? You know what I'm saying?” He elbowed me, and I felt myself blushing.

“Oh ho, our Dave has complex taste in women. So, what're the details? Ghost? Specter? Wraith? Oh, maybe a shade?”

“Not hardly.” I sighed, seeing no way out of this. ”She's a poltergeist, and she didn't come with me.”

Jason groaned in faux-agony. “Dave, you're killing me here! All these lovely ladies and you choose one that's only good for parlor tricks.” I looked away. I shouldn't have said anything. The room fell silent, except for a stiff, ominous breeze blowing. Magda began giggling quietly. Jason and I looked at her, baffled.

“What? What's so funny?” Jason said.

“Nothing!” Magda shouted back, holding onto her scarf as the wind picked up. I hadn't realized it, but that wind – could it be?

“Dave, do you know what's happening?” Jason screamed. Of course I did. I shrugged. The wind blew harder and louder than ever.

He kept yelling at me, his face contorted in rage. He pointed at me. Gestured around the room. I scratched my head. He stood up, raising his fists. He fell down, clobbered by a flying chair.

***

I got into my car, incredulous at what happened. Magda made sure that Jason was okay, and told me I had business to finish. I didn't know what she meant, until I saw wooden shards from the chair that spelled an address. It was an old cemetery a good way out of town. Soon enough I had arrived. The lot was old and hadn't been visited in a long time. I carefully made my way through the thick layer of leaves littering the ground, and made my way into the cemetery, checking each grave's inscription. I knew what I was looking for, and soon enough I found it. Brushing aside the moss, I found:

Gertrude Miller, here lies.
Her husband, unwise.
Left her, she cries.
Wedding night, she dies.


Her grave. I knelt next to it. Paying my respects was the least I could do.

Taptaptap. Tap. Tap. Tap. Taptaptap.

I turned around. I knew that pattern. A barren branch of a rosewood tree was tapping against the rusted metal fence. I smiled. “Apology accepted.” I whispered. I snapped the branch off the tree. “You okay?” I asked. The branch twisted unnaturally as if to nod.

“C'mon. Let's go home.”

Pseudoscorpion fucked around with this message at May 16, 2014 around 01:24

leekster
Jun 20, 2013


SurreptitiousMuffin posted:

Yo first round of loserbrawlers you've got like 4 hours what's keepin' ya.

Muffin you gave us until the 15th. We have another day.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002

aka sticklegs



Grimey Drawer

Lake Jucas posted:

Come on, any of you "winners" gonna brawl me?

I suggest you start insulting various people. See how cowardly they are when you question their honor.

Bushido Brown
Mar 30, 2011


Lipstick Apathy

In with a for failing to submit last week.

God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards


in

Malefic Marmite
Jan 10, 2011

THUNDERDOME LOSER

New here. Any secret handshakes necessary? If not, I'm in.

a new study bible!
Feb 1, 2009



BIG DICK NICK
A Philadelphia Legend
Fly Eagles Fly


Yeah okay, lets have a flight.

docbeard
Jul 18, 2011

High marks for compassion, low marks for survival skills





In

dmboogie
Oct 4, 2013



(Loserbrawl, 1000 words.)
Lapis Lazuli


The sound of a heavy crash greeted Liz as she walked through her front door. A wide-eyed cat, cowering on top of the fridge, meekly meowed at her. There was another, louder thud. Liz sighed. “Don’t worry, Tesla, I’ll deal with it.” She said, before walking further into the house.

Liz flinched as her coffee table slammed into the wall next to her. Bracing herself, she surveyed the damage done to her living room. The sofa had been flipped over, lamps were randomly strewn across the floor, and several chairs were haphazardly stacked in a corner. Thankfully, everything fragile had been left alone. Liz’s favorite armchair halted in mid-flight, gently hovering back down to the ground. Liz raised an eyebrow, seemingly unfazed. “What’s all this, now?”

There was a flash of bright blue light, and a marker from a whiteboard hanging on the back wall started hovering. Its cap popped off, landing neatly on the ground. The marker neatly wrote, there was a spider and i did not want you to be distressed. it was a very fast spider. i’m sorry. There was another flash, and a small, blue wisp materialized as the marker fell. It sheepishly bobbed up and down.

Liz stifled a laugh, doing her best to look stern. “Fine, you’re forgiven. Just clean it up, alright? I have a kitty to calm down.” The wisp excitedly flew around her head a few times before ramming itself into the couch and disappearing in a flash. By the time Liz returned from coaxing Tesla down from the fridge, the living room had more or less righted itself, though the furniture was sporting a few new scratches. None of it had been particularly pretty in the first place, so Liz overlooked the damage.

-

In hindsight, Liz could've spent more time questioning why the house’s rent had been so low. Sure, the furniture was old and shabby, and there was an annoying draft, but its close proximity to her college had been too nice to pass up.

She hadn’t been living there for more than a week before strange things started to happen. Small things, at first. Lights that randomly wouldn’t turn on or off, Tesla freaking out at random objects. For a while, Liz was able to write them off as being quirks of the house and neuroses of her cat. It didn’t take long for things to escalate, however.

Soon, things began to move in front of her eyes. Cups that shifted themselves just out of her reach when she tried to grab them, doors that slammed shut as soon as she entered a room. Still, Liz was not deterred. There was obviously something in the house that was screwing with her, but she was willing to put up with a lot to live in a cheap house along with her cat, and nothing had actively threatened her.

Things continued like this for a few weeks, until one day when Liz was desperately trying to finish a paper the day before it was due. In the midst of frenzied typing, her word processor stopped responding. Before she had a chance to even swear, words started writing themselves into the middle of her essay. hey. lady. why are you still here? Not at all in the mood, Liz deleted the sentence. It was quickly replaced. hey. lady. i’m trying to ask you a question.

“Because the rates are cheap and you’re only a slight pain in the rear end, Mr. Ghost or whatever the hell you are.” Liz growled.

you aren’t afraid? the computer wrote.

“No, because this paper is due in 12 hours, I haven’t slept since Friday, and I’m not sure this isn’t just a hallucination.” Liz said.

There was a pause. you’re weird, lady.

Liz groaned, then took another swig of her coffee. “Look, what do you want?” Are you trying to get vengeance on your murderer or some crap like that? Why scare people away?

it’s just what i do. the computer wrote. i don’t know why. people come into this house, i scare them. that’s how it works. The text halted for a second. i haven’t talked to anyone for years. it’s kind of nice.

“Great. Now, can’t you just, you know, not try and scare me? Or at least get out of my computer? I have work to do.”

you know, i haven’t ever actually thought of doing that. There was a flash, and Liz was transfixed by what appeared. A bright blue ball, slightly smaller than her head. It wavered slightly as it floated in the air in front of her. Its entire surface appeared to be constantly engulfed in a dancing flame, but she could feel no heat from it, even when she tentatively reached a hand towards it. It was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen.

-

Tesla’s eyes followed the string as it danced back and forth. He swiped a paw, only for it to move just out of his reach. His next few swipes missed as well, the string dodging at exactly the right moment. With an energetic meow, Tesla pounced, finally managing to grab hold of his mortal foe. "Alright, I think you've made it up to Tesla. C'mon, let's go out." Liz said, holding out an MP3 player. There were two flashes in quick succession, and the string went limp. Liz slipped in some earbuds and headed out the door.

The spirit, unable to leave the house in wisp form, had been stuck inside for years. Liz had made it her goal to let it accompany her into the outside world and see all the sights it had missed. Now, they were sitting in a nearby park, watching the sunset. "This is nice." The music player's voice software said, managing to mispronounce even that short phrase.

"Yeah." Liz said, smiling down at the device that held the strange being she had grown to love. "It is."

Fib
Mar 3, 2005

~ Goodbye, real world ~





Fun Shoe

In.

Hocus Pocus
Sep 7, 2011



Loser Brawl, American Folklore

A One Or A Zero (1039 words)

Natalie scanned the length of the perfect body, symmetrical and clean, with no wounds except for the one clean cut just above the shoulders. It exposed the synthetic impersonation of bone and musculature where a neck should have been. It was one of five bodies with identical wounds, only one of which was human.

Natalie, her partner Simone, and the local coroner stood in the mortuary of Little Irving, a small town in upstate New York. Looking at a map the only thing remotely interesting nearby was a shut down army base. It was a town separate from the world of fiber optics and cybernetics -- which was its appeal to holidaymakers, and those refugees of time who had been alienated by the rapid approach of the singularity.

Little Irving’s mortuary had none of the tools necessary for an autopsy of non organic humanoids. The coroner apologized.

“It doesn't matter anyway -- without the head we can’t access their optical caches.” Simone said dryly to the coroner. Her and her partner were both in their thirties and dressed in unassuming suits, which concealed a menagerie of tools stitched and hidden away.

“Isn't that illegal?” The coroner asked, he was likely the only person in town who kept up with the magtrain growth of the Synthetic Ethics Authority.

Simone shrugged, “How seriously d’you think Central takes these Astro Boys,” She pointed down along the line of android remains, stopping at the human corpse, “if we weren’t dispatched until John Doe lost his top?” Simone had less time than her partner for synthetic humanoids, but in fairness, she had less time for humanoids of every variety.

“Simone, come on, please. You shouldn’t say that poo poo.” Natalie said over her shoulder. She was staring into the eyes of the man’s decapitated head.

“What do you make of all the heads being missing, except the human’s?” Natalie asked.

“Accident? We are out in the sticks, Nat -- maybe a few of the locals found out they were tinjobs, it gave them the heebie jeebies, and they decided to do something about it. Probably thought he was one of them.” Simone replied.

“As much as I hate to admit it, this is a hick town-” Started the coroner.

“I’m sorry, she can be a little-” Natalie said. Simone rolled her eyes..

I was just going to say, it is a hick town, but that doesn’t mean we’re murderers. Hell, the idea’s so alien that half the town reckon it was the headless horseman.” The coroner chuckled.

“The what?”

“Old ghost story: some noble gets his head chopped off (headless), then he huffs about on a horse (horseman) chopping off other people’s to replace it. Headless, horseman.” He showed a palm with each word.

There was a knock at the mortuary door and a local policeman bustled in.

“Uh, special agents?” He stammered out.

“Did your boss put through the satellite sweep request?” Simone asked.

Natalie turned to the coroner, “If there are any components left in their heads still running, an electromagnetic scan should pick up the static.”

The policeman nodded vigorously to Simone, “its already done.”

“Well, lets go find our headless horseman.”

###

Walking through the town and into the hills was like being in a movie from the twentieth century. Simone wouldn’t have been surprised to see a headless horseman in a place like this. There were buildings made of wood. Wood!

As they followed the satellite marker, Natalie understood why people had stayed here. The sky out around the mountains was open in a way she had never seen. She didn’t even know it could be that… high. She wanted to stretch her arms into the sky, like a baby reaching for a mobile.

For Simone, the mountain air she sucked into her lungs hit like a neon lightning bolt. Her whole world was suddenly sharper. It was some kind of trip.

Eventually they found footprints, just one set, ruling out a lynching mob of locals. They were unusual, however -- large and rectangular, perhaps heavy duty mountaineering boots, Natalie thought.

Not much further they saw their headless horseman. It crouched on the carpet of brown pine needles, over a small bundle of severed android heads. Huge hydraulic legs of steel made a statuesque base for the deranged arch of its robotic trunk. It was a very early military model, large and inhuman; a Frankenstein's monster of design. Its arms were long, but in contrast to its legs were thin and wiry, while its back rounded at the top like a kangaroo’s. At the top of its back they saw exposed wires and shorn metal.

In its mechanical hands, it held a head out at arms length, turning it over like Horatio’s skull.

Simone took a step, and accidentally kicked a root. The robot turned.

Thunderclaps sounded as the pistons in its legs fired and it broke into a sprint. In an instant Natalie pulled something the size of a coin from a pocket, pointed it at the robot, and pressed. A blue light shot out which struck the robot, and like a stage hypnotist passing his hand over the eyes of a volunteer, the robot went limp. It crumpled onto the bed of pine.

Natalie looked over the robot while Simone inspected the four heads. She thought of the mortuary; you can’t do repairs with a human head.

“I’m thinking, Natalie, I’m thinking this was an illegal decommission. Crush the ‘brain’, dump the trash -- cost cutting. Except it didn’t die…”

“We have something more, Simone. I know you think its a soul, but whatever it is -- we are more than the sum of our parts. When we die, something sticks, or maybe something fucks off, but there is something. Life is binary for them,” Natalie lightly touched the severed neck of the robot, “Existence is a one or a zero.” She paused. “Doesn’t that make you feel sorry for them?”

Simone kneeled and held up one of the heads at the base of the skull and looked into its eyes, “I guess it does put a bit more pressure on living”.

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Cheneyjugend
May 23, 2008


I'm in.

Could the "Icarus" prompt have anything to do with our treatment of the word count limit last time? I think perhaps "hurtling a car into a brick wall at top speed" would be a more appropriate metaphor, at least for me.

@Sitting Here: Thank you for putting up with my atrocity long enough to say a few words about it.

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