Register a SA Forums Account here!

You can: log in, read the tech support FAQ, or request your lost password. This dumb message (and those ads) will appear on every screen until you register! Get rid of this crap by registering your own SA Forums Account and joining roughly 150,000 Goons, for the one-time price of $9.95! We charge money because it costs us money per month for bills, and since we don't believe in showing ads to our users, we try to make the money back through forum registrations.
  • Locked thread
Apr 12, 2006
:siren: XCII CRITS: Round Two :siren:

God Over Djinn
YGW: Not a physical object so I like it

I think you are a very capable writer so your flaws here are a little more difficult to pinpoint. I guess what I disliked about your story is that the world you created simply didn’t feel real. This was a draft. A skeleton. The bones were there but where was the meat? I understood where you were going but there was never “enough” if that makes sense.

Let’s look at your character relationships. We know they’re troubled yeah? But we don’t know why they’re troubled. Did Charlie leave home because of his parents or because he didn’t have a future in West Virginia? When he says “Love you, too, Ma” I understand that beep boop there is an emotion here buuuuut I have no idea what the emotion is. Is he despondent? Is he angry? Was his comment snarky and sarcastic? No clue. I don’t know what the elephant represents either. Does he connect to it because...I dunno… its a sentient creature? That’s weak and unsupported. Does he it as a reflection of himself? Abused and mistreated by his mother/father? That’s kind of supported but then what is the orange? Love? Okay, so then the elephant rejected his offer of love and that makes him not want to reject his mother. Okay. That’s a decent idea but at this point I’ve had to spend way too much time analyzing it. I shouldn’t be scratching my head going… is this what the author means? I’m not saying you shouldn’t ever make your reader think but when its a pretty basic idea you’re trying to get across I shouldn’t struggle to figure it out.

Dialogue: your dialogue got your information across but not always in a natural way. Charlie is too ashamed to see his mother because he’s “Thirty-four years old and all I got is a trained elephant that don't even listen” but he’s not upset enough about it to keep it from Aunt Harriet. That comes across as sloppy writing. You wanted the reader to know some details but you just threw them out there rather than working them in.

That Old Ganon
YGW: A+ for awesome! Great job!

This was just a wreck. Write a loving story people can read and understand, please. Nothing was clear. Dialogue was confusing. Descriptions were confusing. Motivations were confusing. Ugh.

YGW: Another excellent one!

I don’t think dragons are as cool as you think they are. This also wasn’t really strory. It was just a dragon rambling about being super bad rear end and how he’s actually the super cool, extra bad rear end last member of his totally wicked awesome dragon race. You slipped out of a DM by a few of your fellow writer’s pure lack of merit.

Focus on writing a story first. Don’t wank off about poo poo you think is cool.

YGW: Enlightening. I had know idea what Eurovision was before. I’m not totally sure I know what it is now though either...

Honestly, Kaishai, I liked this one for the win but was outvoted. I thinks its a well written story. It just might be a little cliche.

Oh, I, personally, loved how you used your elements. Well done!

YGW: Tasteful

I found it kind of oddly funny, the correspondence between the sisters in the dreams. I enjoyed your story. I don’t know. The whole thing had a very weird, dissonant quality to it. Maybe you’re just a lovely writer and I’m seeing too much into it but I really dug this one. I wanted to HM you but the other judges didn’t think there was enough there. Maybe there wasn’t. Maybe I’m going crazy. I’ve read a whole lot of poo poo this week.

Also- I appreciated the creative use of your elements.

YGW: Just loving wretched. You signed up first and I feel like you started everyone off on the wrong foot. You rear end in a top hat.

Uh, aight, so I guess you actually know a little about soldering huh? That’s neat. If you had somehow made the fixing of the headphones into a metaphor for something rather than stage business you might have actually had a story. Don’t put in a bunch of meaningless poo poo into your writing.

YGW: I dig it

This needs some serious editing. You have missing words, hosed up capitalization, screwy grammar. If you had used your time better then this could have been a fun little tale. Its just a mess right now though.


Jun 20, 2013
Loser Brawl. American Folklore Detective Story
Dead Air - 985

The task force crowded around the radio. In a minute the transmission would play again. The technician motioned for everyone to be quiet. A faint humming replaced the white noise. Detective Sergio leaned in closer to try and decipher what it was. A slow and distorted Yankee Doodle. Instead of the upbeat pace of the original each note stretched into an eerie distortion. They let that play on. When it finished a woman’s voice came on the radio.

“Class. Today’s numbers are…” The robotic voice corrupted near the end.

“7 23 9 14 11 52 89.” The voice said again.

The assorted law enforcement agents in the room looked at each other. Confused more than anything.

“Is that it?” Sergio asked?

“Yes detective. For the past week that has played at exactly noon,” Police Chief Filkins said. “And five hours after this we find the body of a soldier who was living on base.”

“So how do we know they’re related?” Sergio said.

“Detective. A rouge broadcast fills every channel on the net, public and private. And after that we find bodies. I’m not one for coincidence.” Filkins said, the condescension wasn’t lost on Sergio.

“Do the numbers mean anything?” Said a lanky FBI agent.

“As far as we can tell, no.” Filkins said. “We’ve got nothing but seven bodies and that transmission to go off of.”

“I’ll go try and find where it’s broadcasting from. Mountains, tall buildings, water towers. See if we can find where this crackpot is.” Sergio said as he pulled his jacket on.

“We already checked Zeb’s Hill. My gut would tell me it is on base somewhere but the MPs won’t let us near it. We could have a warrant in a couple of days since the police found the bodies off base. Until then the MPs aren’t cooperating with us.” Filkins said and pointed to the map where the base is.
“You think they are trying to cover something up?” Sergio walked over to the map.

“Their asses maybe. Think of how bad it looks for the Army if some psycho killed seven soldiers in a week and they’ve done nothing to stop it.” Filkins turned around and lifted a hand towards a shelf. “Be sure to grab a radio, cell service has been spot-”

“What?” Sergio asked.

“The cell tower. Let’s go!” Filkins grabbed Sergio by the collar and drug him towards the door, for a fat police chief he could move.

They piled into the black Crown Vic and sped towards the hill. Filkins gripped the steering wheel as though he were choking it. He barked orders to his men to set up blockades around the tower. The car slid into the dirt lot near the tower and they both poured out. They rushed to the tower. Right away Sergio saw where someone spliced the cables and rerouted them to a black box.

“There.” Sergio pointed to the box.

Filkins reached down and ripped the box out.

“What are you doing! You could fry the box that way!” Sergio grabbed the man by the shoulders.

“I’m killing the signal detective! Who knows what else it could be broadcasting!” Filkins was getting red in the face.

Filkins threw Sergio to the ground. And pulled his pistol.

“Freeze!” Filkins voice went ice cold.

A soldier in his BDUs stood there with an M16 at his side. His eyes were glassy and he looked past Filkins. Sergio drew his gun and went to his feet.

“Soldier! Drop the weapon!” Filkins screamed.

His mouth had a weird twitch. It was like he was trying to tell them something. Sergio took a step towards the man and reached his hand out to grab the gun.

“Easy. Let me just take this,” He grabbed the M16 and kicked it back to Filkins. Sergio felt a pop in his finger and the soldier threw him on his back again. The soldier held the gun to his head and lowered himself to speak to him

“7 23 9 14 11 52-” A shot rang out. The soldier’s head whipped back and a red mist sprung from it. The body fell a top Sergio.

“Get him off me!” Sergio pushed against the man to no avail. Filkins rolled the corpse over with a foot and offered a hand to Sergio.

“Thanks,” Sergio wiped the dust off himself.

Filkins nodded and holstered his weapon. “Do you think he was the killer?”

“I don’t know. Seemed like he was brain dead to me.” Sergio leaned against the fence.

A black humvee slammed to a stop in front of the tower. Four MPs got out and trained their rifles on Filkins and Sergio. Filkins lowered his hand to turn his radio to send.

“Freeze! Drop your weapons!” The MP who had been driving yelled.

“gently caress you this our crime scene.” Filkins waved them away.

“Well one of you just killed a soldier on our land. Forget about that chief?” The MP smirked and motioned his men to grab Sergio and Filkins.

“This is on base?” Sergio whispered.

“Part of some land deal back in WWII. This was only the place they could build a tower. poo poo…” Filkins said. “Who knows where they’ll take us.”

“I’ve got an idea.” Sergio said. Then he yelled. “7 23 9 14 11 52 89!”

All four MPs froze in their place. Rifles went to their sides, their eyes glassed over, and their mouths started to twitch.

“Filkins. What the hell is going on here?” Sergio said.

“I don’t know. But we have somewhere to start.” Filkins said.

Before they left Sergio took out his knife and slashed the humvee’s tires. If they snapped out of their day dreaming he wanted a head start. Filkins and Sergio had a long night in front of them and needed all the help they could get to try and stay ahead of the big green machine.

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

Cheneyjugend posted:

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.


never complain

never explain

Feb 13, 2011

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

sebmojo posted:

never complain

never explain

heard that's your motto on your family crest, the one with a medieval knight plunging a nib pen into a lion's heart in order to use it's blood as ink

my heraldic crest bears a franciscan monk getting beaten to death by a large stone cube and the words "writers, block this"

Dec 29, 2009
Slightly under 24 hours until signups close!

On an admin related note, as I need to sort Judging out and keep missing everyone on IRC (you guys and your timezones, I mean really...)

Some Guy TT: Can you /msg me an e-mail address or other method of contact on IRC please
Sitting here: Do you know if you'll be able to judge this week? If so, same question as above; if not, any volunteers for third (experienced) judge?

Oct 17, 2012

Hullabalooza '96
Easily Depressed
Teenagers Edition

And once again I find I've taken forever. IN.

May 30, 2011

do not buy a oneplus phone

I'm in.

Mar 21, 2013

Grimey Drawer
fooblymeese / Sitting Here brawl

wordcount: 2124

The Euclidean Gambit

In my dream Richard was shot in the alleyway, once through the head and once through the heart. The Time was coming. I awoke, breathless and sweating, morning creeping beneath the curtains above me. To my right, Richard lay asleep, pale in the half-light, his eyelids fluttering. Beyond him, Elizabeth dozed and murmured uncomfortable words.

We’d all seen this before. First the dreams, then the confusion of place, and finally the Time set right - the plan fulfilled, or at least natural order restored. Pervasive as water and inescapable as gravity, the Time was coming, as it always did, to wash away the changes that Elizabeth had made.

But this was Richard’s skull bursting open in my dream, Richard’s blood running between the filthy cobblestones. Elizabeth had told me about that impossible instant, the shock of the sound and the colour, but this was as close as I’d come to seeing it for myself. Words were made meaningless. There could be nothing planned about the Time, nothing natural about its onslaught against the timestream that Elizabeth had created. I would fight as she did, I decided, to keep what she had made.

I stretched my limbs and yawned, but my careful movements still woke the sleeping pair. There was a slow moment of recognition between the three of us, then, as one, Richard and I embraced Elizabeth, smoothing her hair and brushing away her sudden tears. Richard told her how brave she’d been, and how grateful he was that she’d taken the steps she had. We both knew what she’d done - she’d spared us no details when she arrived - but I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t been a little disgusted at myself. She’d found Richard’s killer, back in his childhood when he was selling drugs on some nameless corner, and shot him twice, once in the head, once in the heart. I’d asked her, “An eye for an eye? Isn’t that a little old fashioned?”

“An eye to save an eye,” she’d answered, her face guilt and defiance in equal measure. There was no guilt now. We all understood.

I made coffee, and the three of us discussed our next steps. There was no point in returning home, to the years from where we’d set out, two young lovers anxious to dip our toes in the timestream. The Time was no respecter of centuries and would reclaim its divergences regardless. Contacting our friends was equally pointless. Some might empathise, but Elizabeth had gone so flagrantly against the law that it was unlikely we’d get any support. At least they wouldn’t raise a hand against us - what was the point? The Time was coming. It always did.

It was Richard who came up with the plan. I guess the dream had sharpened his thinking, made his predicament more real to him than Elizabeth’s explanations had been able to. For the past few days he’d been looking drawn and wan, but that was a natural reaction to being told you’re divergent - a dead man waiting. Now he looked alive, on fire almost, as he took us through the steps as he imagined them.

“So what do you guys think?” Richard’s eyes were bright.

“Has anyone ever tried it before?” asked Elizabeth.

I was thinking exactly the same question, racking my brain to come up with something similar in our records. “If it was possible,” I said, “someone would surely have done it already.”

“How would we know if it *did* work for someone else?” asked Richard. “Would they leave a record, or a memory? Or would all that go with them? I”m telling you, it could work. We break the connection between the timestreams, we cause so many disruptions that there’s nothing left for the Time to repair. We basically remove the entirety of the killer’s history.”

“My head hurts,” said Elizabeth, “there’s too many implications to consider.” I sympathised.

“The only other question,” said Richard, “is one we all know the answer to. What happens if we don’t try it?” He rubbed his forehead, then became aware he was doing so and dropped his hand. Elizabeth took it, the tattoo of a compass rose on her forearm pointing to ‘Forever’ in inky curlicues. I placed my hand atop hers, and my tattoo pointed in the same direction. Hand in hand, we bound our timelines together.

“It’s settled then,” said Richard. “We take the reality and run.”

Elizabeth already had guns, hidden at the bottom of my closet. She went to fetch them while Richard and I finished our coffee, as if we’d discussed nothing more than which deli to have breakfast at. When Elizabeth returned, she took one look at Richard and screamed. His shirt was covered in blood.

“We have to hurry,” said Richard, grabbing two of the guns and handing one to me. He tucked his into the back of his trousers and grabbed at the light from the kitchen window, twisting it into a refractive array and following it tachyonwards. Elizabeth and I did the same, our own strands of varying widths and lengths depending on our destination. The room buckled, the lens of gravity distorting the urban apartment, creating an infinite kitchen table. I followed the strand along it and into the past.

The turn of the century was a very different place. Horses and automobiles vied for control of the streets, and the smells of sewage and dung were vile. I located the killer’s grandfather easily, staggering out of a cartoonish saloon bar in the middle of the afternoon. I had the gun tucked inside my jacket, but our plan was to take out each ancestral step in turn, so I had to wait for Elizabeth to complete her task with the killer’s father.

Elizabeth appeared beside me, gun in one hand, the end of a light array in another. She nodded at me, mouthed ‘go for it’ and watched as I approached the drunkard. The sot wasn’t used to women in skinny jeans, I’m guessing, as it was all he could do to stand upright and drool at the same time. I walked up to him, gave him a wide smile and pulled out the weapon. His look went from lust to fear in the barest of seconds.

I stood there, dumbly, pointing a gun at him in the middle of the street. I almost wished I had thought of something to say beforehand, just to break the ice a little. I tried to picture Richard, lying in a gutter amid the muck of the city, all because this drunk rear end in a top hat couldn’t keep it in his pants but the colours of the dream were less vivid now, less real. I felt the trigger against my finger. I saw a dark stain spread from the crotch of Grandpa’s pants. He was just a pathetic drunk, and when he started crying, I started crying too. My hand waved everywhere. The man took his chance and ran, pell mell, away from me, calling me every name under the sun.

Elizabeth shot him in the back of the head. She grabbed a strand of light and vanished into the timestream. I sobbed a few times, trying not to look at the bleeding corpse, and then somehow managed to gather some semblance of coherence. I twisted a handful of photons into the path I needed to travel and emerged beside Richard and Elizabeth standing above another, almost familiar corpse in a deserted woodland.

“I got lucky,” said Richard. “He had his own guns nearby. Made it look like a hunting accident.”

He smiled, but he looked so incredibly sad my heart broke and my own story came rushing out. “I couldn’t do it.” I said. “Oh God, I am so sorry - but it’s a dream! It’s just...I know what it means, but that’s not who I am.” I looked at Elizabeth, saw my face looking back at me with eyes I’d never seen in a mirror. “I don’t know who I am any more.”

“Elizabeth, sweet girl,” said Richard to me. “We know, and that’s why we love you.” He touched my cheek, gave me a real smile. “C’mon, we don’t have to do this alone.” He slipped his arms around Elizabeth and me, then wound a beam of light around his wrist and tugged.

With the timeline altered again, we could double back to ourselves safely. We found Elizabeth, Elizabeth and Richard preparing to sleep in the apartment. Richard explained the situation, and laid out the plan for them. They agreed, but I could tell Elizabeth was shocked by the sight of me, shaking and red-eyed. Elizabeth, on the other hand, shared that a certain coldness with Elizabeth. I wondered how I hadn’t seen it before.

Hand in hand, we bound our timelines together, four tattoos pointing towards forever. Those who could went where they needed to go to do the job they needed to do, while myself and Elizabeth each travelled alongside the Richard whose timeline we had shared. I watched the man I love kill a steady stream of the ancestors of his own assassin, using guns, swords, even horses.

“How many times will we need to do this,” I asked at one juncture in the fourteenth century.

“I dunno,” said Richard, wiping his blade clean on a nearby patch of grass. “Let me consult the instruction manual.”

“Will we change things beyond recognition?” I wondered at a thirteenth century fair. “There’s a huge ancestral base we’re eradicating.”

“Plenty more fish in the sea - I”m sure it will all average out,” said Richard, unleashing the full force of a longbow at a not-too-distant reveller.

“You know what would be awful?” I pondered amid the stench of a fifth century tannery. “If we double back so often and go back so far that there’s a timeline with only us in it, only there’s twice as many of me as there are of you.”

“Doesn’t sound that bad to me,” said Richard, “but we should probably avoid it all the same.”

We warped the weft of time and space to commit lineacide. And because we were human, we slept.

In my dream Richard was shot in the alleyway, once through the head and once through the heart. The Time was coming.

Richard put down his coffee. The room flickered between a contemporary urban apartment and a cold, stone building with hieroglyphs on the walls. “Well,” he said, “we tried.”

“You can’t give up!” said Elizabeth. She looked like she was ready to kill him herself. “Not after what we’ve done already.”

“The Time will come. It always does. We were grasping at straws, kidding ourselves. What, we’d go back to the original amoeba? Stop it from splitting?”

“It might not take that much. You don’t know it would take that.”

Richard spoke softly. “I think, in all honesty, the only way I could stomach this was knowing that the Time would come and make it irrelevant. It got us an extra day together - be thankful for that.”

“I won’t remember any of it. You’ll just be dead, lying on the ground, getting colder.”

A blood flower blossomed on Richard’s shirt. He dabbed at it with his hands. “I think I already am.”

A blood flower blossomed on Richard’s forehead. He dabbed at it with his hands. “I think I already am.”

Elizabeth spat at him, stormed out of the apartment, joined by Elizabeth, her face like broken glass.

The Richard I’d known since school turned to me. “Well, sweet girl, why don't we go for a walk. Just us.”

We walked through all our favourite places in the city, the gardens by the river, the lesser pyramids, the open air kitchens off the town square, even the giant faux-castle that sat on one side of the hill. “Smells a lot better than the real thing,” I said. We ran down the hillside, into the maze of streets at the bottom. We followed our noses, looking into shop windows, singing little songs, laughing at the old and young alike.

Richard grabbed my hand, spun me round, kissed me. “Thank you for not killing anybody,” he said.

I looked down at my shoes, still muddy from the grime of centuries gone by. “Are you sure I didn’t? I mean, what if...”

“Life is nothing but a ‘what if’!” he said, laughing. “Hey, lets see if we can get back and find the others - I’d hate to go knowing they’re still mad at me.” He held up my arm with the compass rose, moving it in the direction of the needle. “This way to forever, sweet girl. C’mon - I know a shortcut.”

Apr 12, 2006
I'm in.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007
Hey Fumble/Mojo, noon is a really weird time for me to post due to work and stuff. I will have poo poo up in a little bit, but it might be later than noon.

Aug 2, 2002




you're literally crushing sebmojo's dream of tumbleweed and standoffs under the blazing sun.


Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007

crabrock posted:

you're literally crushing sebmojo's dream of tumbleweed and standoffs under the blazing sun.


quick someone make a kickstarter

Benny the Snake
Apr 11, 2012


Aug 2, 2002




Following Benny's good example: in.

Nov 15, 2012

erm... quack-ward
:siren: crits :siren:

THUNDERDOME XCII – Let’s give them more creative control, what could possibly go wrong
Alternative Title: The Bad Story Stampede

Screw all these stories about elephants. It’s like none of you could wait for a day to start writing, because you needed the extra time to prepare the worst possible stuff you could come up with.

Good job by the way.

Cache Cab - To Be a Better Father
I am pissed before I even start reading, because of the preface that starts with "I know I shouldn't write a preface". I'm pissed after the first sentence, because there's some formatting gimmick again and I'm thoroughly pissed at the second sentence where you botch my prompt. Friendly reminder: You picked the genre of Psychological Horror.

Your story is poorly written. You have 550 words and three scenes, one of which contains an additional flashback. Your constant jumping between times is confusing, your dialogue is rushed and unbelievable and your writing is full of clichees. On top of that, you have incorporated your presents in the most hamfisted way possible, wrote Entenzahn with his hands.

The only reason this didn't lose is that your story is about something.

Alternative Title: To Be a Badder Writer

CommissarMega - DRAGONSLAYER
Humor is subjective and oh boy the judges were split on this. I’m the one who liked it. I think the voice is solid, the jokes mostly well-done and the idea generally funny. But it’s only good for one read-through. Then the punchlines have expired, and so has your entry, because underneath all the wit there isn’t any substance.

Your story isn't engaging. The assholish protagonist doesn't bother me as much, since it’s implied that everyone else is a douche too. My main problem is that everything has already happened at the time of telling and now we just listen to protagonist gloat about his victory (and occasionally lose track, not always with interesting results). This is not very exciting. You have some kind of frame story going on, but you only use it for cheap laughs.

I checked up on your Wise Fool piece and please write something different next time Jesus gently caress.

Alternative Title: Confessions of a xXxDRAGONSLAYERxXx

Meinberg - Monochrome
Story keeps going back and forth between dreamlike sequences concerning the protagonist’s wife and dreamlike sequences concerning the protagonist’s stumbling around and not seeing color. And then he dies. And that’s it, I guess?

I don’t really get what’s going on, unless it’s nothing, in which case I understand perfectly fine. The prose conveys a fitting mood, and if you knew what you were writing about, and if what you wrote about was more than a dying man’s weirdest sightseeing tour ever, this could have been a better entry.

Alternative Title: A Study in Grey

Starter Wiggin - Plubert the Elephant
This is simple and nice and inoffensive and that’s my problem: it’s too safe. You rattle off your fairy tale checklist (protagonist is sad *CHECK* protagonist meets three people, gets sadder *CHECK* protagonist has breakthrough *CHECK* dance party) and while you do get a story out of it, it feels very formulaic, and your low-stakes plot can’t create the necessary tension to distract me from that.

I mean seriously, so the elephant is bored. Who cares.

Alternative title: Plubert the Nerd

Drunk Nerds - Elephant Assassin
I remember this story, because the first sentence stuck with me and I thought the last part was kinda smart. I also remember it because I don’t remember anything else. I think there’s some worn-out jokes about monkeys wanting to gently caress the guy and boring descriptions of him breaking into the zoo. I don’t really care about your dude or what he does, so that’s all I take with me from reading your piece: Throwaway jokes, a throwaway protagonist and a throwaway entry.

Alternative Title: Wacky Assassin Stories #1 - The Zany Zone

D.O.G.O.G.B.Y.N. - A present for Bertha
This is the story of a man who is in love with an elephant and uses his book on a string to overpower the “plotting, murderous veterinarians” and be with her in her final moments.

Alternative Title: The Weirdo

Meeple - The Sound of Elephants
I got to this and I was like “I don’t hate this what is going are we still in Thunderdome”. Your story has it all: good description, authentic dialogue, characters with motivations. Ambrosia! What stands out most is the originality. The indistinguishable magic/technology prompt is very well done and your setting is unique and understandable and emerges naturally from the plot as opposed to being dumped on us through exposition.

Your biggest problem is the lack of conflict. Aleph is just some toymaker on just another project for just another customer. In the end she fails and it doesn’t even seem to upset her a lot. If she had a more urgent reason to find the voice of elephants, something that didn’t make her go *shrug* Whatevs :] at the end, this would have grabbed me more.

Funny ending otherwise, very clever.

Alternative title: The Curious Case of the Highly Irrelevant Pet Project

RunningIntoWalls - Rewind
I like how your protagonist goes out of his way to say that none of this poo poo actually matters.

Alternative title: The Attic 1: Electric Boogaloo

WeLandedOnTheMoon! - Hunters and Protectors
You’re starting to tell a story about domestic abuse and suddenly MAGIC SAVANNAH. No seriously, what is this entire part? I guess you’re trying to tell me it’s in her fantasy, so none of this really happens but somehow the elephant still disappears and she learns a major life lesson from the 10-15 minutes she spent underground?

If this would focus more on the fantasy part and not rush the ending as it does, it would be a) more believable, b) more exciting and c) a better Alice in Wonderland ripoff.

Alternative title: The Most Dangerous Animal

Thalamas - Emergency Contact
We now switch to a life feed of Entenzahn’s thoughts as he reads ‘Emergency Contact’:

“God this is so boring. Boring boring boring boring boring. Boooooooring. What’s this even about? No, don’t tell safari stor-- ELEPHANTS!!!!!”

This is the literary equivalent to Aunt Ernie’s dia show of her economy class vacation in Africa. It gets a little better towards the end, and beneath the endless back-and-forth dialogue I feel like there could a heartfelt story somewhere, but you need to trim this and get to the point.

Alternative title: Flatlined

Some Guy TT - Throwdown
Ever read a story that you simultaneously wanted to HM and DM

Nethilia - Mango Magic
This isn’t bad. Amelia is a believable, sympathetic character. I get the setting, and the conflict. You play off well-known archetypes without being chlicheed and your entry has an enchanting vibe to it. This did get close to an HM.

My first problem is that loving mango. Is it magic? Do I take your word for that? I mean it actually works in the real world, so what the gently caress? You can’t just drop this kind of stuff on me halfway through the story. I could accept this if your piece were otherwise flawless, but then there’s Moubani. Why does she share her secret with the oppressor girl? Do they just randomly become infatuated with another? Is Amelia really desperate enough to run away with a native girl at first chance? As others have said, the lack of clarity when it comes to the motivation of your characters is a big issue.

This could be pretty cool after a rewrite.

Alternative title: Mango Madness

Djeser - Concerning the Heresy of the Divine rear end and the Quest for the Divine rear end Incarnate

Your story synopsis: “I met this guy. He was weird. I followed him for a while, but then I got bored. I went home. The end.”

Had this on my DM shortlist, but it’s well-written and it has a consistent theme, even a little character development. So I guess you were spared. It’s not much of a story though. Your protagonist is just there to watch stuff happen to someone else.

Alternative title: How I Wasted the Best Years of my Life - A Travel Report

leekster - Vacancy
You have a good premise, but you waste all these words on the setup and a drawn-out “action scene”. Then it ends before anything of consequence happens. I love detective stories and I am very angry about you wasting this nice present. I wanted to DM this so bad, but you scraped by.

Still. I have no leekster.

Alternative title: Anticlimax

God Over Djinn - Elephant
This was one of the better stories. It had characters, and development for the characters, and a beginning and a middle and an end. It was nice and authentic, but unfortunately not overly exciting.

I don’t care about Charlie. The first impression I get is that he’s a drifter who ran away from the family business to shovel animal feces. My second impression is that he’s cruel to animals. The sanctuary scene is kinda weird in that light, because up to that point I never really believe you that Charlie cares for the elephant.

Also there are too many scenes with too little meat on their bones. Like vignettes from Charlie’s life bunched together, as opposed to a coherent story. Others have suggested you might have tried to say too much within the word limit and I’m inclined to agree.

Alternative title: Circus Charlie

That Old Ganon - Hellhound
Didn’t have this down for a DM, but I can’t argue with the result. There isn’t much speaking in favor of this mess. I have no idea what is going on, or who is who, or why anything happens, or why anyone is doing anything. I think there’s a witch somewhere and her child makes the protagonist’s birthmark come to life and bite itself off? I have no idea.

Alternative title: It was all a (Hellhound) Dream

Cheneyjugend - Nephilim
As a first-time judge your story plays to my most elemental fear: an entry that sounds smart and I don’t get it. Is it my fault? Am I too plebeian for the literary prodigy that is Cheneyjugend? I may never know. What I do know is that your story is 50% exposition and I still don’t fully understand what is happening except there’s a fight somewhere and I think the protagonist lost?

The prose is kinda clunky and your dialogue attribution is lacking, but there are faint outlines of a story underneath the rubble. Stuff happens and you didn’t forget to include the ending, which is more than can be said about some of the other guys. You also had an original idea. So I think this wasn't the worst first try. If you can get your head out of your rear end you might get far.

Alternative title: Tumorosus

Kaishai - Happiness You Have Mistaken
I read all these other stories and I was like “I don’t give a poo poo about any of these people”, so coming across something that made me feel sympathy for the protagonist was such a breath of fresh air that it instantly elevated you to a close winning contender.

My biggest problem is that the story feels slightly incomplete. I would have liked if you could have slowed down a little, gone into more detail, either about the stuff in-between the two bar scenes or before the first, to show us more about why Mercy is so infatuated with Mr. Handsome-Creole or why it's such a big deal to her. As it is, I feel like the terrorists from the entry below you threatened to shoot one hostage for every hundred words your love story doesn’t reach its ending. This is most apparent at the finale, where suddenly there’s some conclusive theme message about how all this time we’ve really read a story about Mercy’s ~*soul search*~

Your story shines where you take your time for it, which is at the first and last concert, and this was still by far the most touching entry. Super-close second and an HM well deserved. Also thanks for using the cathartic triumph prompt.

Alternative title: Picking up Strangers at the Bar – A Cautionary Tale

Kalyco - Only One Place to Go
You know, this was decent. Your pacing is brisk, your dialogue is authentic and I feel like you know what you’re writing about. It’s even educational!

My main problem are the dream sequences. I was confused when I first read this because I thought this was a story about the protagonist looking for her sister, and suddenly we were negotiating with terrorists in Afghanistan. Why are you showing me all this stuff? I’m not sure if you use the dreams as an attempt to fulfill your prompt and infuse the main story with symbolism, or if this is supposed to be a character study with added explosions. It’s hard to tell what your story is about and that makes me feel stupid and I don't like feeling stupid so I don't like you.

Alternative title: Back and Forth

kurona_bright - Broken and Fixed Shut
This is another entry that tries to tell a touching story and gets bogged down by cul-de-sac dialogue. I mean, really, what’s the story here? You’re telling us over and over again that she likes girls and she doesn’t like the guy who told everyone she likes girls and also she can also fix headphones!! Wow

There is conflict, but no progress. Trim the fat off the dialogue, the exposition, the loving welding, and this could be one scene in a complete story about trust, and how hard it is to regain.

Alternative title: Broken Record

Phobia - The Mystery of the Elephant Statue
Humor is hit-and-miss for me. Better towards the beginning, falls flat towards the end where I feel like you’re rushing the resolution and try to pass it off as ‘wacky’ storytelling. Together with the constant tense shifts and flawed punctuation this smells suspiciously like a first draft. Also don’t think I didn’t see you sneaking all that exposition into Nara’s dialogue scene.

Not all bad though. Detective noir anime mashup is a neat idea and your story does best where the two universes collide (example: the ‘depraved things with boys / spunk factor’ lines). I wish you’d spent more time polishing this.

Alternative title: Detective Moseley Super Kawaii Faceoff Mysteries Oni Hunt

crabrock - Lovers

Alternative Title: Raw and Tender

Grizzled Patriarch - Mostly They Come Home
Hi, I’m calling to tell you that we really enjoyed reading chapter one of your Psychological Horror book “Mostly They Come Home” and if we ever host a 100.000 word contest we’d be happy to see a full story from you.

Alternative title: Nobody Will Miss Them


Entenzahn fucked around with this message at 22:34 on May 16, 2014

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.
Second semester complete.


Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007
lol enjoy this mess you have to read Mojo

:siren: Fumble v. Sitting Brawl :siren:

Joy in Motion
2493 words

    “Catch me if

you can do it,” Genevieve tells Sunil. They are on a paved park path that limns the marshy lagoons of Lake Tahoma, whose water is gently ruffled by the early morning breeze, its ripples winking blue-gold under the light of the impending sunrise.

Sunil stops attempting to bend over and touch his toes, stands up, and scratches the mossy scruff of hair growing down his neck.

“I know how this works,” he says. “You’re going to make me run a short distance. Then, next time, it’ll be just a bit longer. And then soon you’ll have tricked me into being Someone Who Runs. A runner.”

“What’s so bad about running? There’s joy in motion.” Genevieve is balanced on one leg, doing a quad stretch that does nothing to get Sunil’s eyes off of her taut, amber-skinned thighs.

She notices, and switches legs, smiling. “Well so, can I appeal to your penis for a moment?”

“You can do ninety-nine-point-nine-nine-nine percent of anything you want to my penis. And that qualifier is mainly just for the day that the scissors come into the picture, from the chronic, out-of-control boredom.”

“It’s a well-known fact that vigorously enjoying the joy of moving your body increases libido.”

“You can say ‘exercise’. You don’t need to be euphemistic. And you know what, lets just go ahead and get the dick-snipping scissors. You’re already bored. Don’t drag it out.”

“So, you’re saying that being dumped and having your dick cut off is preferable to jogging half a mile with me.”

“Don’t look hurt. I’m the one who’s pained and exasperated right--Hey, I’m not warmed up yet! If you get too far ahead, you know I’ll just give up and go home.”

Genevieve calls over her shoulder, “you won’t give up,” and disappears around a bend in

    the river. I fight the current for every inch. This stretch of the water of life is fast and deep, abutted on either side by sheer cliffs of pure time, whose naked faces show rainbow strata, evidence of the river’s shallower days.

    She is up ahead, unfettered by the contradiction of the current; it becomes Her, and She becomes it, and in motion She is neither the swimmer or the current. She is joy. She is the ripple that moves upstream in spite of all logic, and with every stroke she is wearing a new face, a new life.

the path.

Sunil catches up with Genevieve just as she veers off of the paved trail. Sunil barely notices that

    we stopped laughing over breakfast at Charlie’s Grill. The new kid asks me if I want coffee today, then repeats himself when I only stare at him.

    “I’m not hard of hearing,” I snap. “Where’s the other boy who works here? He knows what we like.”

    The kid looks between me and Her, mostly at Her. She pats my hand and smiles, the wrinkles around her eyes deepening so that they looked like splayed, reedy wings.

    “He remembers you Alex,” she says of me to the server kid. “Just not right now. Two black coffees and two eggs benedicts, please.”

    The kid scampers off and I yank my hand away from Hers. There She went again, being somewhere I couldn’t be, in time and place and memory and

they are now navigating tree roots, mud, and exposed stones. Nettles snatch at his bare calves, but Sunil can’t remember how long or how far he’s been running, or even that he is supposed to be feeling some kind of joyfulness or libido boost. Every time his lungs and muscles start to scream a fever pitch, he looks ahead and sees Genevieve, who is tireless and leaves in the air behind her the sweet smell of exertion.

At last, they come to a stop; Sunil doubles over, hands on his knees, and dry heaves. Genevieve sits down on hard-packed dirt and brings the bottoms of her feet together in a butterfly stretch, completely unphased by their run.

Sunil tries to take fewer breaths. Quieter breaths. “Mm. Yeah. Next time. Lets just. Cut my dick off instead.” The nettle stings are turning into itchy bumps that cover the exposed skin below the hem of his shorts. His fingernails leave

    scratches on my arms, neck and face, but I can’t feel them. She’s gone because I am terrible. I cannot punish myself enough for how terrible I am. She’d given me every chance to be better, and I couldn’t be, and she believed so hard that I could be, and now

white blanch marks on his skin.

“But what do you think?” Genevieve asks him. Her feet are still touching, and she flutters her knees up and down like wings.

“Of what?” Sunil is still doubled over, preoccupied with the volume and frequency of his breaths.

Still making her legs into wings: “Of here. Of now.”

Sunil spits thick, sticky saliva and finally raises his head to look around.

The roar that he took for blood in pounding in his ears is the sound of the freeway high overhead, supported by grey concrete pillars some forty feet high and as big around as the ancient evergreens that grow out in the coastal rainforests. Ivy

    crawls up my trunk, setting its little hooks in me, stealing the sweet sugar of sun and water and light from my flesh. Where I am already dead, lichen and moss have taken to my bark with the efficacy of tiny demolitionists. My branches splay out from my trunk so that my crown resembles an upturned, many-fingered hand, and in the palm of my body, where decay has already done its brusque work, a host of tiny white mushrooms are fruiting.

    But then She is above me, Her branches stretching out like splayed, reedy wings against the blue sky, and when the horizon turns and air warms, She blots out the sky with Her leafy green mane, which playfully taunts me when the wind whispers through it.

    And though I am decaying I am still alive, and because I am alive I can only bend around the shape of Her shade, and in the space of the day my leaves are oriented toward the rising sun. A year later, my branches have grown at a distinctly eastward cant, and by ten years, the story of my trunk has diverged, one offshoot sparse and stunted, while the other is strong, and greedily soaks up the light of the rising sun.

hangs down from the underside of the freeway in vines, wraps around the pillars, almost thick enough to obscure the graffiti that decorates every rock, pillar, and slab of disused concrete.

Trees lean in under the noisy bridge, and now the sun has crested the horizon, its light limpid green by the time it filters down to the sub-infrastructural cathedral. There is no one there but Sunil and Genevieve at this time of day.

And Sunil looks down at Genevieve, who is looking around at the dank place with such love and so he can only feel a kind of appreciation for it, too. A sad appreciation. Sunil is a numbers guy, a DIY guy, an enthusiast of fantasy novels and fantasy football. In moments like these, Genevieve is like training wheels

    rattle on the sidewalk. My hand is on my daughter’s back, even though I know her wheels will keep her from falling. I look to the porch, where She is watching, and the pride and love on Her face make me ache with a fierce joy that

for his heart.

But, “you know me,” is what Sunil says. “It’s just some concrete and overgrown plants. You know I’m not you. I can’t see the world like you do.”

Genevieve’s smile falters,

    as She turns back and sees me steadily losing ground to the river.

but only a little. “Not yet.”

“The running, it was all about coming here, wasn’t it? We couldn’t have just taken a nice, brisk walk?”

“There’s joy in motion,” Genevieve repeats, and now she’s looking toward a horizon that neither of them can see, there under the bridge. “Why does inertia always work in contradiction to being ‘better’, I wonder?”

Sunil walks to the nearest pillar, idly pulls away a few tendrils of ivy. “Are you in a really obtuse way calling me lazy? Hey, look. You have a friend.”

Among the gang tags and initials, someone had spray-painted ‘joy’ in crude green letters.

Genevieve stands up, comes over to inspect. “It’s for you,” she declares.




“Follow me.

    She says, and dives into the river. The water is a churning, white-scaled snake that angrily carries its load down the the great ocean at the mouth of the river. I watch from the relative comfort of the shore for a moment as, impossibly, she starts to swim upstream.

This isn’t even really what I wanted to show you,” Genevieve says.

She leads Sunil further along under the bridge, until they reach a derelict road that spills out of the trees and lols on the ground like a dead, grey tongue. It’s a chunk of the old interstate; Sunil had always thought that the city or county did something with stretches of old road, repurposed them. But this one just sits, accumulating ivy and weeds and graffiti.

Up the road, then, Sunil fighting to keep up with Genevieve because his legs are still shaky from the run. It rises at a gentle gradient, out of the trees and into the

    river I plunge. A trillion trillions of lives buffet me; it’s not my time to be part of the river, and nothing was ever meant to swim upstream, as I now do. As She now does, far ahead of me.

    My head breaks the surface and I gasp. Then I’m pulled back down again, so far down, for the river is bottomless, and now I’m--

    really seeing Her for the first time. She floats toward me across the auditorium-cum-dance floor in her green prom dress, and I deeply and painfully wish I had begged my parents to rent me a suit.

    and now I’m--

    driving down I-5, the sunset to our right, the sky turning from blue to gold to purple. She leans over to turn up the radio, a whistful look on her face. I recognize the song and scowl.

    “You’re trying to make this into a Thing. A Moment, capital ‘M’ implied.

    “What’s wrong with that?” She asks and

    now I’m--

open air. Once it breaks the treeline, it curves to the north, so that for just a few yards, right at its horizontal apex, it nearly touches the living, thrumming highway. Sunil and Genevieve follow the road’s northward curve all the way out to its terminus way out over the lake.

And now Sunil feels vertigo, looking down over the abrupt end of the road, where the concrete falls away and there is only air and, far below, a forest of brown-green murk and lilypads. The rush hour traffic on the nearby highway seems like it is part of another world. Sunil gets the unshakeable sense that he is looking backward in time.

“What do you think?” Genevieve asks him again. She’s taken her shoes off and is crouching at the edge of the road, toes wrapped around the sharp cement lip.

“Of what?” Sunil snaps. He’s tired now. He’s had his fill of joy. “Don’t say it. Of here and now, right? I think it’s just a time. And a place. Do you want me to say it’s pretty? It’s pretty. But the real reason I’m out here is you. Please understand that. I’ll follow you, but I’ll never be like you.”

Genevieve looks into his face and says,

    “you don’t remember now, but you will,” She says just before she dives into the river of life.

Her eyes are wide and watery and unreadable. Her mouth is curled up slightly at the corners. Slowly, and with such subtlety that Sunil thinks at first that the world is tipping, Genevieve shifts her weight out into nothingness, until for a moment she is poised at an impossibly obtuse angle from the edge.

Sunil makes a sound.

Genevieve kicks out with those long runner’s legs, makes a perfect swan dive down into the lake, and disappears between the lilies without so much as stirring the mud beneath.

Sunil waits. Soon, even the ripples of her passage have faded from the world.

And yet he hears Her voice as though

    She never left him,

She’s speaking to him underwater:

    Catch me if you can.

He breathes. He feels himself leaning forward. He closes his eyes. He feels his feet leave the concrete, feels his body go into freefall.

Then: Sudden, rolling friction. Pressure on his eardrums. He is sinking down, down, far past where the natural lakebed should have been, until

    my head bursts from the heaving contradiction of the current, except in my exhaustion I have failed to notice that I’ve arrived at the river’s point of origin. My feet touch soft sand. The water around me is a placid, teardrop-shaped pool.

    At the tip of the teardrop is the tree of life, whose crown stretches up into the fathomless clouds above the river, and whose roots dip down into the calm, shallow pool. Twenty men couldn’t encircle the trunk with outstretched arms.

    Its branches are bare but for a lacing of water droplets, which drip from the sky, down through the tree, and feed life-fragments to the nascency of the river.

    She steps out from behind the tree, lives running off of Her in rivulettes, all the many costumes She wore as She goaded me upriver puddling at her feet before running inexorably back down into the pool.

    And then I remember. I remember how I have fought this river like a salmon a thousand times. A million times. I remember that She is that which is lovable, that which love aspires to wrap itself around and sequester itself inside of.

    I remember that I am that which loves, that which aspires to wrap itself around Her and sequester itself inside of Her. That which is better because of Her.

    I remember that we are on top of a mountain called time, and that we alone are free to move in any direction on the river of life, because we are love.

    She holds her hand out to me. I wade to the shore on soft sand, laughing. I go to her. And she takes me into her arms, and now we are both laughing for joy and for the madness of summiting this mountain time, of swimming the river of life to its source.

    And I remember that, like all good love, we must grow and change, and all too soon, but not soon enough, she dances out of my arms and hurls herself into the water once more, calling

    “catch me if you can.”

Dec 29, 2009
Aaaand signups closed.

Let the crashing and burning begin.

Nov 15, 2012

erm... quack-ward

Lake Jucas posted:

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

This is not how you challenge someone to a brawl. If you wanted to challenge someone to a brawl, you'd say things like

Lake Jucas is such a bad writer, his First Reader is also his last
Lake Jucas is such a bad writer, he pays Tommy Wiseau to ghostwrite his flash fic
Lake Jucas is such a bad writer, he offers his mom his autographed anthology and she's like "Uhhh no thanks"
Lake Jucas is such a bad writer, if you told Benny the Snake not to secretly ask Lake Jucas for precrits he actually wouldn't

However, I'm not eligible to brawl you :shrug:

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

Entenzahn posted:

This is not how you challenge someone to a brawl. If you wanted to challenge someone to a brawl, you'd say things like

Lake Jucas is such a bad writer, his First Reader is also his last
Lake Jucas is such a bad writer, he pays Tommy Wiseau to ghostwrite his flash fic
Lake Jucas is such a bad writer, he offers his mom his autographed anthology and she's like "Uhhh no thanks"
Lake Jucas is such a bad writer, if you told Benny the Snake not to secretly ask Lake Jucas for precrits he actually wouldn't

However, I'm not eligible to brawl you :shrug:

do it anyway

500 words, themed to a musical piece of your choice, 21 May 2359 PST

Dec 5, 2003

Rebirth 1349 words (brawl with Starter Wiggin)

Casimir drove home with the windows down and the stereo turned up. The Offspring cranked out “Self Esteem” as he hit every familiar Spokane pothole along Monroe Street. A year in Las Vegas chasing dreams, a year back home, and today he had worked a split shift. In the middle, he’d gone in front of a judge and signed his final divorce papers. He’d lost his dog in the divorce. It sounded like a joke. Cas parked in front of the rented house he could no longer afford. His parents were taking him in for a while, just until he got back on his feet.

They had his guns. He’d asked them to stop by and pick them up the night she’d left. It had seemed prudent.

At least he could cook.

The night passed. A good steak, a Romeo y Julieta, and a bottle of Ardbeg kept him company on the couch while he gamed.

He rolled over and slapped the alarm off at eight, then grabbed a bite to eat, a cup of coffee, four aspirin, and a quick shower before work. Cas grinned into the mirror, brushing his teeth, and swiped a clear streak through the fog. In the reflection, he caught a flash movement leaving his bedroom. He jerked his head after it, shouting, “Hey!” Grabbing a towel, he chased into the hall, but found no one. “Hello?” A jingling sound taunted him, but a search of the house revealed nothing.

Out of time, he sent a text to his step-father asking him to check on the house, snatched his bag, and left for work

Robin waited for him at the curb. She wasn’t cherry red. gently caress cherries.

She was red like a sunset, a burning coal on the blacktop. He keyed her on and took off at a gentle rumble. The Offspring picked up where they’d left off, launching into “It’ll Be A Long Time.”

Cas pulled out onto an arterial and headed south, then realized he must have missed the turn when the street sign read wrong. He flipped the car around and drove back, then stopped, cursed, and flipped around again. He took the first right, then a left, and a right.

He spotted the mall in the distance and made his way there, then turned onto the central street. As he drove, he saw there were no people in sight. No one on the sidewalks, no other people driving. No animals in sight, not even the usual crows or sparrows. He turned the stereo off. The drycleaner had a different sign, their logo revamped into a jazzy blue number.

The street signs should read Division, not Expo. He was completely lost.

Overarching all, he saw the calm blue sky dotted with clouds. He steered into the lot of a coffee shop and parked. The smell of rotting quiche hit him when he entered. “Anyone here?” It felt stupid to ask. He grabbed a local paper. The date was from November, months old. The front page picture was titled: Riverfront Park particle collider grand opening. There was no particle collider in Spokane. He checked his phone. No Service. His earlier text had failed.

“Ha. Hahaaaha. Ahaha! No way.” He stepped outside into the fresh air and took a deep breath. The businesses were different in small ways. It was easy to miss when he drove by them a few hundred times a year. Cas picked out details - Shawn’s Auto-Service instead of Shaun’s Auto-Service, Wong’s was Juan’s. He ran across the empty, eight-lane street to a gas station and took a lukewarm sweet tea and a paper map of the city.

Unfolding the map revealed a new Spokane, city streets with different names laid out in strange, new patterns. Even geographic features like the Spokane River had shifted. He took Robin’s t-tops off, strapped them down in the back, and pulled out his keys.

The ring had an extra key. It was long, brass, with a square top. A clock tower and tent were embossed on the metal, the logo of Riverfront Park. He didn’t know how he’d missed it that morning. Strange.

Robin purred like a six-cylinder cheetah. Cas let her loose on Expo, barreling down the barren streets at a hundred and ten with a whoop. He spent the day exploring the bizarre version of his hometown, listening to music, and trying doors to random houses. The power was out everywhere. He picked up a length of tubing from an auto supply store and used it to siphon gas from cars. Grocery stores reeked of rotten produce and meat, but they had enough of canned food to last his lifetime.

The days passed. It took a while to bring the cigars he found back to the right humidity level, but the scotch was great immediately. Oddly, they both lost their savor in the sunshine. Cas found he didn’t miss the video games. He spent his time driving, meditating, exercising, foraging. He figured this Spokane was a parallel universe and wondered if he’d ever get home, or if he even wanted to go home. It was peaceful here. And lonely.

One late afternoon he tried the radio on a whim. The FM just spit out static, but the AM still had one working station: the emergency broadcast. His own voice came out of the speakers. “Cas, you’ll hear this when you need to. Come to Riverfront Park. The collider is underground, use the key.” The recording looped.

He drove downtown along the streets that were just starting to become familiar and parked on the grass in front of the iconic pavilion constructed for Expo ’74. Searching the area revealed a metal door set in concrete. A plastic sleeve taped on the outside protected a note in his own handwriting: “Use the bathroom.”

The key fit. He unlocked the door and entered. A large, framed map hung on the wall. The facility was huge, the collider two floors below. He went to the bathroom where a letter waited for him.


This dimension collapses at 5:32 tonight. I’ve included the calculations at the bottom of the page for you. I’m sure you have a lot of questions, and I’ll leave those for the ones who come later, but for now, look through the mirror.

He stopped reading and looked up. The mirror was like a window to his own bathroom. He saw himself walk through the door and get in the shower from weeks before when all this had first happened.

You have a choice to make. Climb through, put the key on the ring, and hide. Tonight, you’ll cease to exist and all this starts again.

Or, you can go downstairs and shut off the collider. I can’t make myself do it and I think you feel the same. There’s no way to be sure, but I think it will bring the people back and restabilize this place. It’s been a while since grad school.

Cas (#1)

A pen sat on the sink. Calculations scrawled across the bottom of the sheet, along with notes from a dozen others. One claimed to have driven as far as Dallas and back without seeing a single person. He looked up at the mirror and heard the shower turn off. A world of people, missing their lives, and him getting to live his as many times as he wanted. The last few weeks had been so satisfying, so life affirming, and he knew he could have this back home.

His watch read 5:27 PM.

Cas took off for the collider at a jog. It had been years since he’d worked in a lab, worked with any kind of particle collider. A perceptible hum filled the air as he ran down two flights of stairs.

Instructions had been taped to each of the dials and levers, inked in marker, and he jogged from station to station. 5:31. Ten seconds. He flipped the last switch and the hum died. 5:32. A flash of light, then nothing.

He rolled over and slapped the alarm off at eight.

Dec 5, 2003


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?
Hello yes it is I who is the basic baby bitch.
I'm out this week. In with a toxx next time.
Also humbly requesting an extension on my brawl (literally being hospitalized is a good reason OK? OK.) so that I'm not a full bitch.

Mar 21, 2010
I have had a crazy busy week you guys don't even know, but I guess 2/3 of those loserbrawls are closed now or something, and you're gonna have to wait until the final pair finish nextweek before I resultpost.

Dec 5, 2003


Starter Wiggin posted:

Hello yes it is I who is the basic baby bitch.
I'm out this week. In with a toxx next time.
Also humbly requesting an extension on my brawl (literally being hospitalized is a good reason OK? OK.) so that I'm not a full bitch.
I'm alright with it if crabrock is. You know, as long as you are okay with me putting you back in the hospital when the time comes. All full of holes and such. From the showdown.


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?

Thalamas posted:

I'm alright with it if crabrock is. You know, as long as you are okay with me putting you back in the hospital when the time comes. All full of holes and such. From the showdown.


Go for it man, they got some killer drugs and food here (if by good food you like watered down applesauce and its ilk).

vvv thank you kind crab of the rock variety.

Starter Wiggin fucked around with this message at 17:56 on May 17, 2014

Aug 2, 2002




I've used the hospital excuse myself, so brawl is now extended to

Saturday May 25th, 12:00 HIGH NOON (for seb)

Use those pain killers to write some weird poo poo. (then edit it)

Apr 29, 2012

by XyloJW
Well, done with my final week of field training. Moving from company command to a super desk job in a couple of weeks. Should have more time to write now.

Who wants to brawl?

Dec 5, 2003

After 7 weeks in a row without a win, loss, or mention of any kind, I'm ready for a little R&R in Bartertown, so I'm taking the week off from writing. Gau's getting the first of his 3 crits this week (assuming he doesn't punk out like last week). Who else wants one?

In the spirit of the Thunderdome, I'm offering detailed crits to the next two people with the guts start a brawl. Martello, if you're interested, ask and you shall receive.

Aug 2, 2002




lol wrong thread

crabrock fucked around with this message at 19:44 on May 17, 2014

Apr 29, 2012

by XyloJW

Thalamas posted:

Martello, if you're interested, ask and you shall receive.

Sounds good. Just need an opponent and judge.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007

Martello posted:

Sounds good. Just need an opponent and judge.

So little Marty wants to rumble, eh?

Well, if you must be put out of your misery, then it is meet that I should be the one to send you on to the next life

bring it on, big daddy thunderdome.


Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart

Sitting Here posted:


:frogsiren: Sittello Brawl :frogsiren:

750-1500 words of prose themed around this Whitman quote:

Walt Whitman posted:

In this broad earth of ours,
Amid the measureless grossness and the slag,
Enclosed and safe within its central heart,
Nestles the seed perfection.

Extra special rule: The first and last sentences of your story must be in trochaic or iambic meter; minor pyrrhic or spondee substitutions permitted.

Due: 25 May, 23:59:59 Pacific Daylight Time

Jan 7, 2014

by Lowtax
Okay babby bitches, here's my story. It is not unlike a lasagna of fondled turds. Enjoy.

Ramshackle Estates 1200 +/- 15% words

The sound of broken glass still rang in his ears as he kicked the lawyer’s bedroom door open. Tobias pressed his flashlight, acid sizzled inside the casing and spewed white hot light. The man was fumbling with a kerosene lantern. Tobias cocked his suppressed pistol just as the lawyer’s match caught.

“Light it,” Tobias said, gesturing with his gun towards the lantern. His flashlight hissed and dimmed, it was spent. He tossed it aside.

“You’re going to change this contract. You’re going to make it read like my father never sold his land," he said.

“B-but-I don’t even,” the man stuttered before regaining his composure. “Who are you? I’m calling the constabulary at once,” but Tobias’ free hand was already around the man’s neck.

“Now, you are going to change this contract and make it read that the farm stays ours,” Tobias said, handing the man a pen.

“Wha-but, do you even know what this is? This is a notarized document from the Magistrate himself! You’re going to need signatures! My, what is this? It’s dated, too. This is a fool’s errand, this has to be at the Capitol in three days! If you leave now, boy, I’ll only charge you for attempted robbery,” the lawyer said.

Tobias pressed the pistol against the man’s temple.

“I…you can’t expect me to drat well forge signatures, do you? I can’t-“

“Fine. Fine. I need time, let me fetch my coat and follow me to the study.”

Tobias waited, switching the pistol off between hands when he grew weary. The lawyer marked words on a contract, practiced signatures on foolscap in a manic frenzy, filled and re-filled the tea pot until his hands were trembling. Finally, he produced a contract.

“Those letters better say what I mean them to, or we shall meet once again,” Tobias said, stuffing the letter into a tattered case.

“We’re both dead men,” the lawyer said, weary blue eyes looking out from a pale face.


Tobias hadn’t slept. He found himself sitting on a bench near the docks, pretending to read the previous day’s paper. The thrum of airship propellers and the sound of mooring horns drew pictures in his head. Boyhood dreams of flight, the feeling of fear and elation the first time an airship had passed over the farm, but in his daydreams it was the magistrate calling him to supper.

A man caught his gaze. He walked with the gait that only the gentry could produce, a sort of lazy goose step both supported and subdued by the sheer magnitude of wealth one could possess. Tobias rose, slowly, and followed the man at a distance.

A queue had already formed by the ticket stalls, well-dressed and hungover men waiting to buy an escape, a trip home. Tobias studied his mark – poorly shaven, hints of lipstick in the two day stubble. His coat, once fitted, now hung a little too tightly around the gut. He smelled of cheap hops masked by good cologne.
The man produced a cheque, handed it to the attendant.

“Will that be for today’s flight, sir?” The attendant asked. The man shook his head, “tomorrow.”

Tobias knew where he’d be waiting.


He sat at the bar, buying just enough drinks and paying just enough attention to keep one of the girls interested. He studied the patrons, he watched the doors like a hawk.

“Are you waiting for someone?” She asked, with a faded French accent and heavy lines across her face.

“Not really, I mean, sort of, well, I’ve never been to the city before and people here are so different,”

She nodded, feigning understanding, “En France,” she began, when he spotted him, his mark. And at once, one of the girls was upon him all embraces and French kisses. The pair headed up the stairs to the hotel.

“Listen, I have to meet a friend, I’ll see you again” Tobias said, leaving a handul of coins on the bar.

He climbed the fire escape and waited, hands trembling against cold steel. He breathed deep. A door slammed, he heard laughter, someone turned on a light.
He used his pistol’s suppressor to smash the window and leapt in, barely thinking as his pistol hissed twice. The girl fell clutching her throat, his mark fell to his knees with a hole in the side of his head. Tobias rifled through his pockets, finding the ticket and a book of cheques. He tore these from the man’s coat, knocking free a bottle of cologne.

Working quickly, he dragged the body to the window and cleaned his fingerprints from the gun using the cologne before smashing the bottle and putting the gun in the man’s hand. A jealous murder-suicide.


The airship roared to life and the city disappeared into grey-blue smoke. Soon, the smoke gave way to open water, more than he’d ever seen before. Tobias lit a cheroot and straightened his tie. His new clothes drove him mad. Someone rapped at the door, it slid open before he had a chance to react.

“Sorry to startle you, sir, but formalities are just that,” the airman said, gesturing for Tobias’ papers.

“Ah yes, welcome aboard Mr.” the man paused “Bartlett? My, I’ll let the captain know at once!” The airman said, looking over the top of his spectacles. His smile had faded.

“Oh, it’s quite alright,” Tobias said.

“No, I insist,” the man said closing the door. A lock clicked into place.

Tobias pulled on the handle, but it wouldn't budge. He braced himself against the door and popped it free of its hinges, flimsy sheetwood cracking as bolts tore free. He ran down the length of the gondola, other passengers began to open their doors, curious as to the commotion.

He pushed aside an airman and ran into a control room. Somewhere an alarm chime sounded. Above him was a hatch labelled “Technician access only”.

The air was colder here, wind tearing through the belly of the beast. Electricity crackled and machines hissed as he climbed a ladder. He looked down and almost fainted, the hatch was impossibly far away now. Armed men were falling into formation. Tobias pulled himself onto a catwalk that extended the full length of the ship. He took off running.

The ship narrowed, his breath was getting short. He could hear footsteps behind him.

“He’s cleared the ballasts! Open fire!” someone yelled and shots rang out, tearing through the airship’s skin and letting golden-pink sunlight through in beams.

The catwalk ended at a single door, Tobias kicked it in and fell into a tiny room. Radio hissed and crackled, he struggled to breath. He was at the terminal nacelle, the Landing Radio operator’s nest at the airship’s upper fin. Thick fog enveloped them, condensation built up on the plate glass.

“Just who are you?” Someone asked, cocking a revolver.

Tobias dove, the man fired but the shot went wide. Glass exploded from the nacelle and then Tobias was free.

The ocean opened up before him like in a childhood dream, and he was flying.

Oct 9, 2011

inspired by but legally distinct from CATS (2019)
Salt Spray and Summer Winds
(1197 words)

Cold walls, stoney grey, enclosed Frerick in a perfect cubic cell. The walls were etched with marks, tallying the days he had been imprisoned, five hundred and thirty-six. Only a small, barred circle allowed any sense of the outside. Frerick grasped the bars and pulled up to gaze out that window, arms trembling from ill-use and malnutrition.

The sea stretched as far as he could see. The scent of salt spray hit his nose, fresh despite the sting, a sharp contrast to the feral stench of his cell. He looked to his arms and, as he so often did, followed the trail of brands running from his wrist to his elbow.

The brands told his story in four simple words, writ in his captor’s elaborate, curled script: “Slaver,” “Serf,” “Rebel,” and finally, “Dangerous.” The last one brought a smirk to his lips. His captors would soon realize just how dangerous he was..

The wall had burned while he stood upon it. And he breathed in the flame, letting it fill his belly as he did the bloody work of defending his city. He himself was of slave stock, but that didn’t stop them from thinking that he stood for all that the city did. He took up arms only because it gave him citizenship and made sure that Elizan would always be free. He had run back to her as the wall fell, and they tore her from his arms moments before setting their metal to his flesh.

Despite his torments in the deepest dark of the prison, he hadn’t screamed. He needed to save his voice to sing. And so he did. His voice lilted softly, light and airy, fit to match the wind that blew off the great sea. He sang in an older tongue, one that man never spoke as their own but that his ancestors stole from stranger sources.

“I call to you, my brother, my cousin, my distant self, I call to you for aid. I beseech you in the name of the compacts and in my greatest of need. I sing to you, god of salt and spray, lord of rust and ruin, come to me, come to me, come to me,” he sang. The translation he held in his mind butchered the poetry of the original that he sang, but knowing the meaning was instrumental.

The response came back, crisp and ethereal, resonating in the stone beneath his feet. “What do you wish and what do you offer?” sang the voice. Frerick smiled at the traditional refrain.

“I wish for this wall to fall apart, so that we might see each other face to face,” Frerick sang. “And I offer the metal in blood for the metal you must sunder and my breath for yours that you must exert.” He did not hesitate and dragged his hand down the rusty bar that he gripped, causing a flow of blood to rise to his skin and cling to the metal. He then breathed out a single, heavy exhalation onto the red spots.

A white crystalline mass began to form over the bar that he had bled onto. He released the bars with both hands, falling onto his backside. The salt spread, covering all the bars, then starting to seep into the cracks between the bricks of the stone wall.

The pressure mounted until a series of snaps filled the room, followed by the bricks tearing outwards and plummeting down into the ocean far below. Shouts and alarms sounded from further inside the prison at the sudden noise.

The little god clung to the cliff-like face of the prison just below the new exit. Its form stretched, crab-like, limbs anchored into the solid stone and pincers waving in the air, sharply crystalline. “Your blood is weak,” said the god.

“Your blood would be weak too if you ate what I ate,” Frerick said. “If you had blood.” Frerick gazed out onto the emptiness, breathing in the fresh air.

“So you have seen my face. Now what?” said the god of salt. “I could take you with me and break down your flesh and your bones, let them decay in the depths of the sea until you are everywhere. I could give you utter freedom.”

Frerick laughed. “Not today,” he said. “I may return to you when my bones are old and ready to rest. Today I fly.”

The chitinous face of the god of salt twisted into something resembling a frown. It dislodged from the prison’s wall and dropped into the water, dissipating into a fine mist that hung only for a second.

Even before Frerick had been imprisoned, he had stoked the fire in his belly. His rebellion had been small, but fear had come to the towerborn, until his second betrayed him and his arms were branded once again.

But now his strength had returned, and the lessons his grandmother taught when he was a boy had come streaming back to his mind. The fire in his belly surged as he sang to the wind.

The god of the wind sang back. “What do you wish and what do you offer?” sang the god.

“I wish to fly and I offer my fear so that I may be free of its weight,” Frerick sang.

The wind rustled his rags. “Your fear is too light, you must give up a heavier weight,” sang the god of the wind.

Frerick paused and thought of what he had left to give. The fire roared in his belly as he thought of the soldiers who burned the gates to his city. The soldiers who held him down and made him lesser in their eyes. The soldiers who transformed him from a man to a caged and collared monster. He thought of his daughter torn from his arms.

The hurried words of his captors were exchanged outside of his door as they sought for the proper key.

“I wish to fly,” Frerick sang, “and I offer my vengeance.”

The wind gusted and surrounded him, wrapping him up like a lover’s embrace. The fire inside of him roared like an inferno and he could think of nothing but tearing out the throats of those soldiers and feasting on their corpses like the monster they thought him. But the thought disappeared like smoke before a tempest and all that remained was hollowness. His limbs fell limp even as the wind hefted his body like a doll.

The door to his cell flung open and half a dozen guards stared at Frerick on the back of the manta-like, ethereal god of the wind, over the open sea. “You wish to fly?” said the god.

“Yes,” Frerick said. The strength had fled his voice like it had his limbs.

“Where shall we go?” said the god

In that void where the fire had once burned, Frerick felt the stirring of the wind. He turned his gaze towards the sky, so vast and wide. His shoulders lifted and breathed it all in. Elizan’s face appeared in his mind, smiling like she did before the war came. He said, “Take me home. My daughter needs me.”

May 23, 2008
Late Bloomer – 1184 words

A small space, but comfortable and warm. I have everything I need, and so I sleep, wake in the froth briefly, sleep again.

Then, it feels tight, something not right. I want to move, to breathe. I strain against the wall, then tire, and sleep. When I wake, the wish to move becomes an ache, a need. Strain again, ache becomes pain, but the wall gives. I feel it bend. Spurring myself to new efforts, I push with my legs, I wiggle, I peck. Tiredness leads to a desperate rest, but when stagnant air turns to soup, I know I have to push harder, and so I struggle with all the strength I can muster, then struggle even more.

Finally, I feel a crack, and with more poking and prodding, a chip falls out and the air rushes in. A voice with which I’m inexplicably familiar chirps with pride, and I bask in a cool zephyr before I set out to finish my work.

It is some time after, with the bits of the world before broken and cleaned away, nestled in the embrace of sisters and brothers who climb about and shiver and scratch and labor to breathe or to poo poo, that I become attuned to the struggles we yet face. When I feel the first light dim and then take leave, mother’s body presses close. Whenever we wiggle, she presses closer until we don’t make a sound, and I feel the fear in her. After an eternity, her strain grows lax with the warming air. I stretch out my mouth at her as she stirs, knowing I have a need, yet knowing not what, before she taps my gaping beak with hers, and a beating gale suddenly fills us with the terror of her passing.

How could she suddenly be gone? To where, and why? I can feel the growing concern in the twitching crowns of my sisters and brothers, that she has abandoned us. Then, a chirp from close by puts us at ease, a different voice, but one we know all the same. Father is nearby, watching, and so we nervously shift about, taking turns in the middle of the huddle to keep warm, before mother returns and dribbles a warm sauce into our outstretched gullets. The fragrant flavor, comprised of wondrous things that I can’t even imagine, sates a need so deep that we can scarcely manage to keep still when she bounces away, and father, in a shaky call to the effect of saying, “Here I go!” takes flight.

Many new surprises come, some much less kind. We come to know, when the days are wet and cold, and try as he might, father’s wings cannot save all from the pummeling drops that soak the nest, that the ruder surprise is the lack of food. My silently imploring mouth is only met with a chiding touch from his.

A feast of relief comes after, but brings new challenges. It is the tallest mouth that gets the soup, and so we clamber about, bruising each other’s bodies and batting our nubby wings into our neighbor’s eyes, renewing the race for the top with each successive fed head. Today, I get nothing.

With the coming of the next morning, the throbbing red light of sun through our eyelids gives way to the wide, colorful world. Our wonder is palpable as we marvel at father’s incredible glistening feathers, and we strain to keep our eyes open when his wings spread to their full span and defy the air, carrying him further than we ever imagined him to go. I watch him leave with elation, then try batting the air with the nubs at my sides, confused when I only succeed in eliciting an annoyed panting sigh from my elder sister.

With the contrasts and the hues of the world in relief, we learn from the example of our parents’ shrill notes of the terrors that surround us. Where we used to lumber about, we now wait for our meals in attentive stillness, though we break it now and again to eat the odd ant.

I cock my head one morning in a mix of jealousy and adoration when I see feathers on my sister’s body, and the nest regards them in a bustle as we take turns to preen them. More feathers appear shortly thereafter, until I notice to my great chagrin that I’m the only one adorned merely in the unattractive peppering of white down.

Our meal comes, and the void in my stomach burns like a bouncing hot ingot. I reach with all my might, but taller heads extend above mine. I barely manage to secure a mouthful before father leaves. The fleeting relief only makes me hungrier in its passing. A buffet of air stings my eyes, making me wonder if mother is back already, but the source is much closer by.

Days later, despite the sprouting of a few plumes, I feel naked and cold next to my siblings. The meal comes, but I don’t even bother. I’m too tired to climb that mountain, so tired that I almost don’t notice the sounds of their chirping for the first time. I feel a beak pick at my neck, and see my sister with an ant in her mouth. I bury my head in her warm feathers.

When I wake, an odd feeling of space and cold tells of a brother’s journey out upon the tree branch, and more siblings hop out after him. My legs strain to lift my head onto the poo poo-encrusted rim of the nest and, in an effort to distract the pain, I watch them bounce intrepidly about and test their wings. For a few odd moments, I feel contented, watching them. A nudge at my bottom propels me just enough for the world to open wide. At the flood of new colors and sounds, I collapse, alarmed, and see my sister above me, cocking her head left and right. Surprise turns to anger, but soon again to wonder. I want to see that world again. When the next meal comes, I climb and reach with all my might.

When my first brother departs, I see him off with pride, my dull hunger soothed by his elated song. When mother comes, the mountain is smaller. I feel like she sees me for the first time. My wings bear the same muted matte as hers. She nuzzles me adoringly, noting that her job will be finished soon.

We stand together on the end of an outstretched twig, my sister and I tweeting back and forth. I let her go first, my heart lurching as the twig bobs up and down.

There are many struggles yet to face, but also many sights yet to see. I will go see them, and talk to her about them. We’ll have many stories to share.

I stretch out my wingspan. I’m tiny, but I’ve got spunk. I’ll make it, right? Amongst the carpet of feathers, I see one more white downy hair. I pluck it out, and take a leap.

God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards
It begins at the beginning and ends at the end. (506 words)

This story, that is. It starts with me, Simon J., coming to an abrupt and unpleasant realization: the wind rushing past my face was coming up from below, as opposed to rightwards from the left, northwards from the south, etc., as was more typical. The cause of this lay in the fact of my falling rapidly downwards.

"Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaagh," I screamed.

Then I took a deep breath, being rather in want of oxygen.

"Ah! gently caress! Holy loving poo poo! Jesus loving poo poo Christ!" I shrieked. The story gave every indication of being short.

As I rocketed downwards and the sun rose gloriously over the Cascades, I found myself succumbing to an emotional response that rather lacked in nuance, but which I hope that future readers will forgive. Specifically, I wet myself.

Only then did I begin to consider the burden that the brevity of this story placed upon me. To justify the reader's attention, the author must manufacture a plausible yet enlightening correspondence between unexpected elements. I might have compared my rapid downwards descent to any number of things that start bad, get worse, and end in death.

Unfortunately, I had time for none of this. It became rapidly apparent that I was due to land not in deep snow or somesuch, but somewhere just to the east of Lake Washington, a densely-populated region with little in the way of accommodating surfaces. And thus, as the story draws to a close, we must lend some brief consideration to the ending.
Nobody likes a twist ending. When reflecting upon those stories that represent our greatest cultural treasures, one must acknowledge that even the most surprising finale becomes retrospectively inevitable when considered in light of the themes developed beforehand.

I, Simon J., hardly claim to have written such a story. I would call myself satisfied if it merely evokes some reflection on the part of its meager complement of readers. After all, the ground was approaching rapidly; I could nearly make out the cars speeding along the freeway. There was little time for revision. Yet if one's greatest aspiration is to write the perfect story, one must strive for excellence in all aspects. As in the beginning, so too in the end.

And how does this particular story end? Now that I could make out the individual trees, willow, ash, and yew, yearning towards the sky from which I fell? Now that I could discern the upturned faces of pedestrians, goggling at my predicament? Now that I could nearly touch the rooftops with the toes of my boots? Now that the panorama had circumscribed itself to no more than that one might attain from a skyscraper's viewing-platform? Now that I have run out of space on the page, all natural plotlines have plotted themselves out, the singular character has resigned himself to his decisions' consequences, and my pen is going dry?

"God dammit loving poo poo," I said, feeling somewhat disheartened. And then it ended, in the only way that it could: with a splat.

Dec 29, 2009
Evening of the final day. Twelve hours remaining

Mar 7, 2006

"So you Jesus?"

"And you black?"

"Nigga prove it!"

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


Merkloctopus Brawl
The Seasons Have Evolved
700 Words

The receptionist at the Four Seasons looked up in time to see a rent-a-cop explode. His bits and pieces showered the lobby and woman in a crimson rain.

Along came a spider, the click clacks of armored legs chipped into the marble floor. It leaped, a brilliant flash of mirrored silver flickering through the air and it landed with the grace of a mongoose on to the receptionist’s desk.

The spider stared up at the frozen receptionist with five of its eight eyes, the remaining three covered by miniature eye patches. “Where is he?” he asked, “Where is Spring?”

The receptionist shrieked at the sight of a spider.

Quick as a snake bite, the spider shot webbing upward and snatched a weave, slamming the girl’s head down on the desk.

“Scream again. I double dog dare you,” the spider said, letting go of the silk. “Let’s start over. My name is Buzzsaw. Tell me where Spring is before I use your head as a cereal bowl.”

“We’re a hotel. Seasons aren’t people that just stay here,” the receptionist said, strangely calm.

“You lie!” Buzzsaw yelled.

The receptionist snorted derisively.

Buzzsaw felt a sudden power surge come from within the receptionist. He launched himself at her, his legs slicing through the air, threatening to cut the fabric of space and time itself. The air cracked. He met resistance so strong that he ricocheted to the side and buzzed straight through a marble pillar.

When the dust settled, Buzzsaw pushed himself out from the wreckage. He faced his opponent, but the person before him wasn’t who he was expecting.

A woman with tree bark skin and hair fashioned out of orange and red and purple leaves stood at the precipice of a semi-circle crater of destruction. She lowered her arm. Across it was a long, shallow scratch with sap congealing across the edges.

“Autumn,” Buzzsaw said. He spat on the ground. “Step aside. Your brother will pay for his crimes against nature.”

Autumn grinned. “You don’t know, holy poo poo!” She laughed, bright and musical, her voice like song birds. “That idiot died back in November trying to impress Winter. His last words were, ‘Hey baby, watch this.’ You’d think being a literal force of nature, he’d survive skiing into a tree.”

Buzzsaw recoiled at the news. “It’s May and still it snows in Michigan! All this time, you've done nothing to help us!”

“Sorry about your luck, dude,” Autumn said. She shrugged her shoulders and turned to look at her demolished desk. “We’re short handed. Winter’s doing her thing, Summer’s doing housekeeping and I’m stuck here.” She clicked her tongue and nudged a piece of wood with her foot. “We could use another season. A spider wouldn’t be my first choice, but giving a poo poo is hard. What do you say?”

“W-what? No! I demand justice-”

“Dude, either you be the new Spring or you learn to spin yourself a drat igloo.”

Buzzsaw skittered toward Autumn. “Aren’t there other humans you could have chosen months ago? Why me?” he asked, anger seeping into his voice.

Autumn was knuckle deep in her nose and stared at a spot on the floor, appearing nonchalant. “I. Don’t. Care,” she said, enunciating every word. She shrugged. “You do. Did me a favor, actually. Now I don’t have to prepare severance packages for those security dudes. Now make up your drat mind, already.”

So he did.

* * *

Calvin and Josie snuck out from the underground compound. They were rebellious, not liking being told that they couldn’t be outside during Spring. Besides, they had told themselves, it was only late February and Spring was weeks away.

Calvin reached down, packed some snow and without warning he pelted Josie in the back of the head. He snickered and she turned around to show her displeasure.

Calvin screamed.

Spiders scurried out from the impact spot on the back of Josie’s head. She opened her mouth to scream but a stampede of spiders crawled out of her throat.

Calvin looked down at his hand where some snow still clung to his gloves. The “snow” hatched and within moments, silver spiders ran across his skin, ready to feast on their new host.


Bushido Brown
Mar 30, 2011

Like a Morning Star
571 Words

“Joe, check out the halteres on this one,” I said as I pointed to the two bulbous masses behind each wing. “They’re massive! This guy has to be our tail rotor. I’m going to call him Spike.”

The latest specimen was superb, but my kid brother didn’t seem to appreciate just how lucky we were to find “Spike.” True, most houseflies are nearly identical, but our Spike’s wings were several deviations larger than the average fly’s, and boy were those halteres something.

Although previous iterations of my fly-powered-flight contraptions had failed, with Spike at the rear, I was confident that my latest project, the Fly-O-Copter Mk 1, would be a tremendous success. I just needed to glue my flies into place.

“OK Joe, if we want to attach our pal Spike to the frame, we’re going to need to squeeze the body a bit as we gently glue his legs in place. If you don’t squeeze him, his whole thorax will get attached and he won’t be able to fly. We want him to be firmly attached, but he can’t be smushed against the balsa wood, you got it? But, don’t squeeze too hard! If you squeeze too hard you’ll squish ‘im and—”

“Thomas! What have I told you about playing with flies! It’s disgusting. Let it go and wash your hands. I cannot believe you’re using out kitchen table for this.”

Moms just don’t understand. The first time I caught a fly I was ecstatic. I, a mere boy of seven, had plucked a creature from the sky with my bare hands. As I raised my arms in triumph my mother gasped and shouted “let go of that thing right this instant!” Victory was short-lived.

“Ma, listen, I’m really close to a breakthrough on the Fly-O-Copter and the kitchen table is our best workspace. If you let me wrap up here, I promise I won’t touch another fly again in my life.”

“You said that last time, when I caught you gluing them to a baloon—”

“You mean the Hindflyberg,” I interjected.

“And the paper airplane…”

“Air Fly One,” I said with emphasis.

“and the time before that when you were trying to tie a string around—”

“It really was more of a leash. I don’t have time to go into the techni—”

“I want the flies gone, Thomas. I’m glad you have your hobbies, but I’m done with the flies. And I swear to God if you have more of them sitting in a ziplock in the freezer, I’ll ground you for a month.”

The joke was on her—I learned to avoid ziplock bags weeks ago. The clear plastic makes it way too obvious if she opens the freezer while I’m trying to stun the flies. Much easier to place them in the bag of frozen mixed vegetables that had gone untouched for years.

Realizing my defeat, I looked down at Spike, and over at Joe.

“Joe, thanks for your help. Hopefully next time—”

“I just told you there wasn’t going to be a next time, Thomas. Joe, go wash your hands and go to your room,” my mother commanded.

I looked down at the the frame of the ill-fated Fly-O-Copter Mk 1. Spike had roused from his cryogenic slumber. As he cleaned his wings and flew away, I remembered a song from my youth.

“Shoo, fly,” I spat at as I batted him away.

  • Locked thread