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The Saddest Rhino
Apr 29, 2009

Behold my brain the golden throne of my consciousness. In here I am seated. Shackled. From here I police the land.



Phobia posted:

Hey guys I'm back. I'm in for this week to... Oh. Signups have closed. *walks back out.*

I'm going to overrule muffin by allowing you in subject to the flash rule that the song music genre is pop ye ye, and the setting must be in either Malaysia or Indonesia.

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SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010


The Saddest Rhino posted:

I'm going to overrule muffin by allowing you in subject to the flash rule that the song music genre is pop ye ye, and the setting must be in either Malaysia or Indonesia.
gently caress you.

the song music genre is pop ye ye or dangdut, and the setting must be in either Malaysia or Indonesia.

Fixed your dumb flash rule.

Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

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


Djeser posted:

You skipped out on our brawl last time.

Let's fight.

The Fall feat. Phobia and Djeser

I want each of you to write a story about a character who has wronged, or been wronged. What I'm looking for are touching, dramatic tales of redemption, revenge, forgiveness, crap like that. No comedy.

Specials
Djeser: Ninjas
Phobia: Pirates. Also someone in your story is afraid of ducks and this is important.

Max wordcount 2500 (I'm not actually mad if you only use a few of those)
Deadline is Sat, Aug. 30th, 23.59 CEST

:siren: No extensions :siren: Hey here's an idea, how about you start writing.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk







Gazumped.

Anathema Device
Dec 22, 2009

by Ion Helmet


Gau posted:

Reflections

“Just relax,” said Buckingham. “This isn’t a test.”

“I understand,” replied Elda. The tension suddenly disappeared from her face. “However, Doctor Spalding did indicate that this was an important evaluation of my abilities.”

Of course, Elda appeared fully human, save the odd facial expressions and rigid bearing. Doctor Spalding was still developing her body language and mannerisms. “Are you nervous?” he Buckingham asked.

“Doctor Spalding said that I should not be concerned,” answered Elda. I like this. It casts doubt on whether she's able to feel things beyond what she's told.

Buckingham nodded, scribbling some notes. It's from his POV, (I think), so I'd like to see what his reactions are beyond the vague note-taking. “How have you been since our last session?”

Elda shuffled in her chair - an oddly human gesture. Was this something designed, or an emergent expression? “I have been well,” she said. “My work with the research team has been very productive.”

“In what way?” he asked.

“Our experiments have produced an incredible amount of data,” she replied. “Doctor Spalding insists that he will be published for two decades.”

“Are you pleaseed by this?”

For the first time, Elda paused before answering a question. “Doctor Spalding is pleased with the results,” she said.

“Does that mean you’re not pleased?” Buckingham leaned forward and put down his pen - here was the meat of it.

Elda contorted her face into a passable imitation of ‘perplexed.’ “I do not believe that I have a relevant emotional response.”

Buckingham arched an eyebrow. “How do you know Doctor Spalding is pleased?”

“He said so,” Elda answered. Was that a hint of annoyance in her voice? “May I ask a question?”

“Of course, Elda.”

She leaned forward, imitating Buckingham’s interest. “Why is this particular session important?”

Buckingham sighed. He should have known better than to think they could avoid this; Elda displayed a rapt curiosity. “Elda, do you know Doctor Knerr?”

“Of course I do,” she said. “She and I are friends.”

He couldn’t let that response go; it was the first time Elda had indicated any sort of friendship. “Why do you say that you are friends?”

“Doctor Knerr has expressed that we are friends,” replied Elda. “She enjoys my company.”

Now Buckingham was scribbling madly. Again with the note-taking. What's he writing? “Do you feel that you have any other friends?” he asked.

“I am accustomed to the presence and unique mannerisms of many of my colleagues,” Elda explained. “However, I lack the context to provide an evaluation of the degree of our friendship. Will you please answer my question?”

“Of course.” Buckingham set down his notebook. He set his elbows on the desk and folded his hands. “Doctor Knerr has petitioned the university board of directors that you are a sentient being and as such protected by law.”

Elda’s eyes stopped moving. Buckingham was familiar with this; when Elda used large portion of her processing power, her operating system deprioritized superfluous movements. A few seconds later, she resumed blinking. “If this petition is successful,” she said, “I would no longer be the property of the university.”

“That’s correct,” he said.

“Either Doctor Knerr or Doctor Spalding have requested your testimony on the matter,” Elda said, “is that correct?”

“It is,” answered Buckingham.

“I do not wish to continue this interview, Doctor Buckingham,” said Elda. “May I go?”

“That is the question at hand,” said Buckingham. “I will not hold you here.”

“Thank you.” Elda abruptly left the room. Buckingham’s face fell into his palms. He exhaled deeply.

Overall I like this scene. There's something comedic about the blankness of the psychologist-type bouncing off the blankness of the robot. I also really like how you show us she's a robot.

-

“This hearing will come to order,” said the director. Board President Malik was a small man, but his presence commanded respect.Cliche The room immediately silenced. “Present are the twelve members of the university board; in addition Doctor Spalding, Theoretical Computational Research; Doctor Knerr, Associate Professor; Doctor Buckingham, Professor Emeritus of Psychology; Elda.”

“The facts of the petition are as follows: on 14 September 2014 coma patient Tracy Selway was remanded to University with the permission of her family. Ms. Selway was diagnosed with permanent brain damage with a negligible chance of recovery. Her will indicated that she wished to donate her body to science.”

“Doctor Spalding installed an experimental digital frontal lobe replacement with the assistance of the university surgery department. After two years of development and evaluation, Elda (nee Ms. Selway) has been active for over a year. Doctor Knerr has petitioned this board so that Elda be allowed to determine for herself if she wishes to remain under the care and observation of Doctor Spalding. Are all parties agreed on veracity of these facts?”

The three doctors concurred.

“I agree,” said Elda.

“Doctor Buckingham,” asked Malik, “you are most qualified to answer questions on this matter. Do you believe that Elda is capable of self-determination?”

“That’s a complicated question,” answered Buckingham. “Elda is capable of high-level reasoning. Her IQ has been tested in the near-genius level. She has well-developed social skills. Double-blind experiments have shown her convincingly passing as human.”

“So,” said Malik, “you believe that she is, for all intents and purposes, human?”

“Not quite,” Buckingham said. “Elda has, at best, an incredibly limited emotional depth. Her emotional responses are avoidant or externalized. She is virtually incapable of making decisions based on emotional stimuli.”

Doctor Knerr stood. “Elda isn’t a machine!” she yelled. “She has clearly grown beyond her original programming!” The yelling here seems out of place; perhaps a more subtle display of emotion?

“No one is maintaining that she is,” said Malik. “The doctor is reminded that this hearing will remain in order.” Doctor Knerr sat back down, still clearly agitated. “Your testimony will be taken after Doctor Buckingham’s,” Malik added.

“As the President says,” explained Buckingham, “Elda is clearly more than a computer. The question we are answering is whether she is intelligent but not conscious - as, for example, Koko the gorilla - or a sentient being.”

“For our elucidation,” asked Malid, “could you evaluate Elda as if she was a human patient?”

“The closest diagnosis I could assign, if she were human, would be high-functioning sociopathy,” said Buckingham. “Although that would be inaccurate. Elda is programmed with a sense of right and wrong, and seems to grasp the concept of acceptable social behavior.”

“Thank you, Doctor Buckingham,” said Malik.

This scene falls flat for me. There's a lot of exposition, not very much character development, and no real plot movement. We probably don't need that much exposition. It's okay to leave some details to the imagination.
-

Elda sat in the coffee shop, reading a copy of Shogun and sipping tea. Doctor Knerr sat across from her.

“How’s the book?” Knerr asked.

“Fascinating,” said Elda, “although fictional.”

“The board ruled against me,” said Knerr. “I brought a copy of the decision, if you would like to read it. They don’t believe there is a preponderance of evidence to overturn the family’s custody agreement.”

Elda put down the book. “I am sorry to hear that, Elizabeth. Your objections were adamant and convincing.”

“It’s okay,” Knerr said. “It’s not over. I’ve found a lawyer who is willing to take this to court. We’ll secure your freedom eventually.”

Elda smiled awkwardly. “I imagine so. You are a good friend.”

And we're back to the charming interactions with Elda for the conclusion.

This story potentially tackles some big subjects – like what makes us sentient, and research ethics – and I like that. It never really answers the question of whether Elda is sentient, which I also like. However, it doesn't go deep enough and a big portion of the story is spent telling us the basics of things that have already happened, without attention to the central conflict. I'd like to see Dr. Knerr developed more as a character. Is her friendship with Elda ethical? Is she pushing her desires on Elda, or using Elda to push a political agenda?

a new study bible!
Feb 1, 2009



BIG DICK NICK
A Philadelphia Legend
Fly Eagles Fly



I am going to have to bow out for the week due to being sick as poo poo.

Mercedes
Mar 7, 2006

"So you Jesus?"

"And you black?"

"Nigga prove it!"

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






I also have to bow out due to being sick of my loving job and unable to concentrate on the finer things in life. Sorry Muffin :(

Phobia
Apr 25, 2011

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


OCK.


SurreptitiousMuffin posted:

gently caress you.

the song music genre is pop ye ye or dangdut, and the setting must be in either Malaysia or Indonesia.

Fixed your dumb flash rule.

As much as I want to take this challenge I am going to be a spineless coward and pop Nah-Nah.

Malaysian music is pretty rad if it's any consolation.


You know what gently caress it. God drat it. God drat it I'm in.

Entenzahn posted:

Djeser: Ninjas
Phobia: Pirates.

It's high school all over again. Let's do this. I'm comin' for you Djeser with my pegleg and hook, arrrrrrrr.

Phobia fucked around with this message at 00:10 on Aug 17, 2014

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010


:siren: DING DING DING TIME WARNING, IT IS SUNDAY MORNING. YOU HAVE MAYBE A DAY-ISH TO SUBMIT :siren:

Dr. Kloctopussy
Apr 22, 2003

"It's time....to DIE!"


Are there literally no submissions yet? I don't want to read 30 terrible stories all in one day >:-[

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


BLO OD E M PR E SS

of

THUDNER-DOME







Dr. Kloctopussy posted:

Are there literally no submissions yet? I don't want to read 30 terrible stories all in one day >:-[

I have mine all queued up and ready to go but i don't want to be first :ohdear:

anime was right
Jun 27, 2008

death is certain
keep yr cool


Dr. Kloctopussy posted:

Are there literally no submissions yet? I don't want to read 30 terrible stories all in one day >:-[

i do mine on saturday night and then edit it when im not busy on sunday, sorry! :(

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


don't worry, muffin will close it before too many people submit

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010


crabrock posted:

don't worry, muffin will close it before too many people submit
You would think the threat of being automatically disqualified would speed up the writing process for some people but nope what are ya gonna do




/me chews on a piece of wheat while staring wistfully into the sunset

anime was right
Jun 27, 2008

death is certain
keep yr cool


SurreptitiousMuffin posted:

You would think the threat of being automatically disqualified would speed up the writing process for some people but nope what are ya gonna do




/me chews on a piece of wheat while staring wistfully into the sunset

sunset huh, so we've only got a few hours.

nice foreshadowing.

Hammer Bro.
Jul 7, 2007

THUNDERDOME LOSER



You know, strictly because I want some of those other stories to read by the time I wake up, here ya go:

Regicide (925 words)

The city lay before them. Strange how a single star can steal the eye, and change the shape of the night.

"This is our big chance. Albini liked our last demo tape and is coming in person to Oz tomorrow night. If we can just jazz it up, even a smidge, he's sure to sign us."

Art fished around in the cooler for another stout.

"That's your response? Don't you care, even a little?" pleaded Kai. "For Christ's sake, we're almost thirty."

"Look," responded Art, "you know I'm sick of Starbucks just as much as you are, but it's not even midnight and we've got the whole day off. Plenty of time to smooth out the rough edges."

"Rough edges? Three sets in a row and you haven't even used the same key for the solo. We can't split the studio with another roommate, and I know you don't have enough to cover next month's rent."

"Pah!" Art scoffed. "I'll go to bed after this beer. Then tomorrow we'll rock that club into the Stone Age."

Kai tossed up his hands in exasperation, stomped off toward his bed, and chopped at the light switch. Art lingered, staring out the balcony at the myriad of run-down apartments as they flickered against the darkness.

All these years of being ignored were about to come to an end. Play a gig, sign a contract, cut a record, then it's radio heaven. Then he'd get the respect he deserved; then she'd notice him. All he needed to do was focus.

Maybe a porter would calm him down.

***

"Where the gently caress have you been?" shouted Kai.

"What? I spent the night at Molly's."

"You didn't leave a note or anything! It's almost three -- that gives us at most an hour and a half to practice before we have to ship out and set up."

"Couldn't find any paper. But look, I bummed a new set of strings."

"Whatever. Just get amped up so we can run through this one last time. And for the love of god, stick to the composition we taped."

Art affixed the shiny new strings to his aging bass while Kai fine-tuned his guitar. The next morning was always an ordeal, but Molly was a demon in the sack. Maybe tonight he'd see if Lucy was at the pub. She always--

"Arthur!"

Art glared as he cranked his amp up to eleven, then gave Kai the nod. One, two, one two three four...

***

"Perfect," said Kai. "Just like that. I'm going to head over early to scout out the competition. Remember: set up's at five thirty sharp, and we're on at six."

"Yeah, yeah," Art replied, then added, "Hey."

Kai turned around.

"By this time tomorrow we'll be certified musicians. Professionals. No more yes sir, no sir, have a nice day; no more paycheck to paycheck. Regicide is going to top the charts."

Kai smiled. When was the last time he'd looked so happy?

***

"poo poo, Luce, I've got to go! It's five forty-five and I'm due at Oz in fifteen minutes."

Art slapped a ten on the bar and wheeled around before Lucy had a chance to respond. His bass was already in his car and Oz wasn't that far away. It was showtime.

When Art arrived, Kai was playing one of his acoustic numbers. Art had heard it a hundred times, but it was still pretty fresh to this audience. Kai glanced sideways at him, almost missing a beat. He tacked on the outro after the second refrain then announced, "And now we'll liven things up a bit with the other half of Regicide: Arthur Dreadmoor!"

Art trotted onto the stage, jacked in his bass, and gave a tight-lipped Kai the nod.

Intro, verse, embellishment. Key change; was it A or C? poo poo, just wing it. That always gets us by. Verse, chorus, solo -- that's where you really shine. Bridge, refrain, outro. Showboat.

***

Backstage, Kai shouted, "What the gently caress was that? Our best chance at making something of our lives and you can't be arsed to even show up on time? I'm done, Art! Done with Regicide and done with you. You've got until the end of the month to pony up rent or pack your poo poo. I don't really care which."

Kai stormed out the fire exit and into the street. Art followed partway.

"Kai," he began. "Listen. I know I don't--"

"No, Art!" Kai whirled around, his forefinger extended in accusation. "Not this time! I won't let you drag me down any further."

That stung. Sure, Art got distracted from time to time, and he usually improvised during practice, but Kai was nothing if not dedicated. Dedicated to the music. Dedicated to Regicide.

Neither of them saw the bus.

***

Art sat alone in the apartment. He let another call from Mary go unanswered. The cooler lay half open, a trickle of water leaking out the side. Belgians, lagers, porters and stouts -- the entire celebratory jambalaya, untouched.

His fingertips were bloody. It's not that guitar was that different from bass, but it had taken him six tries just to play Kai's intro correctly. Trembling, Art ejected the master tape and got out a marker. On it, he wrote:

Demo Tape
Kaiserlaud

Art collapsed onto his futon, closing the cooler with his foot. Outside, the city began its morning routine, unchanged and uncaring. For the first time since the divorce, he wept.

The sun rose on a new day, just like any other. It was done. Not well, but close enough.

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010


oh my god to everybody sending me a flurry of complaints about how I'm a shithead and the worst judge ever

:siren: YOU HAVE THE EXACT SAME AMOUNT OF TIME YOU HAVE EVERY SINGLE WEEK. POSSIBLY EVEN A LITTLE BIT LONGER. I'M NOT GOING TO MALICIOUSLY CUT YOU OFF BEFORE ANY ENTRIES HAVE COME IN. MORE ENTRIES IS BETTER FOR THE 'DOME, AND MORE WRITING IS BETTER FOR EVERYBODY. I AM TRYING TO ENCOURAGE YOU TO WRITE, NOT STOP YOU. JUST SUBMIT ABOUT THE SAME TIME YOU ALWAYS DO, MAYBE AN HOUR OR TWO EARLIER, MAYBE AN HOUR OR TWO LATER. :siren:





jesus christ the level of whining I've received this week is probably a TD record. I think we need to bring Martello back to start bringing the hammer down on people.

If you want to PM me on SA, IRC or otherwise to tell me that I'm a bad person, instead please do the following

1) suck it up
2) write

thank you, this has been a public service announcement from MuffinCorp.

Anathema Device
Dec 22, 2009

by Ion Helmet


Editing, as per the new deadline/rules.

Comet Song
896 Words

The city lay before them. “Strange, how a single star can catch the eye, and change the shape of the night,” Beth's grandfather had said, all those years ago. Seventy-five years, wasn't it? The comet came back every seventy-five years, and didn't that make her feel old? And now someone was playing Grandpa's comet song.

Her fingers twitched for a keyboard, a cello, even a flute. Any of the instruments of her childhood, when music had been a thing shared between people instead of dead noise from a speaker.

Beth shuffled sideways, trying to see the trio of musicians in the corner. The flute lilted through the melody, haunting and clear as the comet overhead. “That's Grandpa's song. Is he here? Let me see him!”

“Calm down,” Josh said, raising his hands, palms out. “They're just hired musicians, Mom. I'll have them play something else.”

“No! It's the comet song. He wrote it here, on this hill.” They'd watched the comet from the yard, and she'd played her mother's cello, though it was nearly as large as she was. She'd played through and through the music while Grandpa had played the recorder and the song had twisted and changed until it came together into a perfect whole. Didn't they remember? “How did they get it?”

“It's okay, Mom. Just let me ask them to play something different, okay? You stay here.” He turned away, waving to a young woman in a red dress. “Angela, can you stay with Mom for a minute?”

“They've got Grandpa's song!” she repeated. “I need to talk to them.”

“You just leave the musicians alone, okay?” Josh moved away.

- - -

The girl in the red dress handed Beth a champagne flute filled with water. “Wasn't it a lovely ceremony?”

Beth sipped politely, remembering bubbles. “Yes. My Josh looked so handsome, saying his vows.”

“It was Mike,” the girl said, with the vague, uncomfortable smile young people gave Beth these days. “Josh's son.”

“Oh. Oh, that's right,” Beth said, flushing. Mike did look so like Josh at his age.

The trio was playing something else now, familiar only in the sense that all chamber music was familiar to her. How often had her family sat together in the living room and played? Mom had loved her cello, had stroked the bow across the string and smiled from the sheer joy of it.

Beth's favorite had been visiting Grandpa's house and playing the little upright piano, her hands bringing Grandpa's music to life. “Do you know, they played one of the songs Grandpa wrote earlier?” she asked.

“Grampa didn't compose music, Grandma,” the girl said with a sad smile, turning away.

Seventy-five years since the comet. She almost ran after the girl who called her Grandma. She almost said, “Not your grandfather – mine!” but the girl was gone and Beth had more important things to do.

- - -

“Sir,” she called, approaching the trio of musicians on their little stage between songs. “Sir!”

“Yes?” the young man looked up from his cello.

“Earlier, you played a song about a comet.” It burst out like an accusation.

His face lit up. “We did! But how do you know it?”

“My grandfather wrote it.” She raised her chin, daring him to disagree. “When I was a little girl. Last time the comet was here.”

“Wow,” he said. “George, come here! This lady says her grandfather wrote our comet song.”

“Really?” George was a girl with short hair and many earrings, who grinned at Beth with the perfect white teeth that kids all seemed to have these days. “That's awesome.”

“Mom!” Josh said, rushing over. “I thought Angela was with you. I'm sorry,” he added to the musicians. “She didn't mean to interrupt you.”

“Actually, she was just helping us solve a mystery,” George said.

“Really?” Josh asked, eyebrows furrowing. “What's that?”

“Well, we've had this mystery song,” George-the-girl said. “Found it written on and old sheet of paper in a violin case we got at an estate sale. It was titled 'Comet Song,' but it didn't have a composer. It was beautiful, though, and with Halley's Comet so bright tonight we thought-”

“The short version,” the cellist cut in, “is that your Great Grandfather wrote it, if this is your mother.” He turned to Beth with a bow. “Ma'am, it should have been part of his estate. I'll give it back to you, if you'd like.”

They believed her. “I think,” Beth said, “that you should keep it. Keep it alive. But...” she smiled wistfully. “I'd like to play it one more time.

- - -

The guests were gone. Below them, the city was waking up.

The cello felt warm and alive under her fingers. Her frail hands – darn them! – shook as she took up the bow. George smiled and started the first, haunting notes on her flute, and Beth drew the bow across the strings. The notes wavered and faded as she struggled to play, but the song filled her mind. She didn't need to read the music.

In the quiet where the party had been, she remembered perfectly. The sun rose on a new day, just like any other. It was done. Not well, but close enough.

Anathema Device fucked around with this message at 10:17 on Aug 17, 2014

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010


Ugh fine ok, we're changing this up.

DEADLINE IS Midday Monday MYT. That is 4:00GMT. It is currently 15:10 Sunday MYT (07:10GMT). That is approximately 21 hours from now. HOWEVER

If you submit within the next 12 hours (7:00-19:00GMT Sunday), you will have an extra 250 words, up to 1277 words. If you have already submitted, I will break protocol and allow you one editing pass, though it must be done within the same 12 hours. I will check the timestamps. Also you're cool and we should hang out some time.
If you submit between 12-18 hours from now (19:00-01:00GMT Sunday), you will have the full wordcount of 1027 words.
If you submit between 18-21 hours from now (01:00-4:00GMT Monday), you will have 727 words.

I expect to be barraged with complaints for this too. Kindly shove them up your rear end.

Dr. Kloctopussy
Apr 22, 2003

"It's time....to DIE!"


I'm not going to read or crit any stories from anyone who complains after this point. Shut up and write.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


BLO OD E M PR E SS

of

THUDNER-DOME







ty sir may i have another

Dead Star
1271 words (per Muffin's rule change)


The city lay before them.

Strange how a single star can steal the eye, and change the shape of the night, Bobby Spencer thought as he reached out to stroke the cheek of the woman next to him.

“Will you show me the studio?” Lola asked, nuzzling his hand.

Bobby recoiled, felt the wave of vertigo that came whenever he forgot and then remembered that he was Bobby Spencer of The Spences. Lola’s eyes were wide and blue and bright as the Milky Way.

Bobby remembered learning somewhere that most starlight came from long-dead stars.

“Honestly, I don’t even have a key these days. It’s no secret we’re not recording anything new,” he said, looking out across L.A.. It was four in the morning and he was sitting on the hood of a car with a girl who was young enough to be his daughter.

“Don’t you own the place?” Lola said.

Bobby shrugged, still looking out at the city. “If I ever wanted a key, I could get a key. But there’s no point now. The studio just makes me remember a time in my life I hate thinking about.”

“You could play me some of your old stuff.” Lola ran a long-nailed finger down the nape of Bobby’s neck. “Maybe that would inspire you?”

Bobby shook his head. “I've got nothing left to say to the world with my music. I just want to collect royalties and get old and fat.”

He turned to see Lola’s reaction to his admission, but the girl with the starry eyes was gone.

-

Bobby put the night out of his mind. There was no Lola, had never been a Lola beside him in the balmy predawn.

“Just light from a dead star,” Bobby Spencer said to himself in the mirror the next morning after brushing his teeth.

He went out to his car, which he barely remembered driving home, and recovered the remnants of the ketamine, cigarettes, alcohol, and cannabis he’d consumed the night before. Everything went down the toilet.

Over the sound of the flush, he heard a Spences song come on the television. His spine went rigid. He could see, in his mind’s eye, the notes on the staff paper. He heard himself and his brother singing:

Back to Sun Beach
I wanna go
Back to Sun Beach
I gotta know


Bobby went out to the living room. His song was set to a car commercial, some luxury convertible. And there, sitting in the passenger seat of the car, looking absolutely elated, was Lola.

His ears rang and spots filled the corners of his vision. On the screen, the car was taking a tight corner in slow motion, right in sync with the chorus of the song. Lola looked out at him, eyebrows raised, head cocked slightly, as if to say and what are you going to do about it?

Then the song was cut short. The commercial was over. Lola was gone.

Bobby stood in the middle of his living room in his green and grey striped bathrobe. He blinked. The television was off, had never been on.

He hummed the song from the imagined commercial. It was the kind of thing he’d always wanted to make, ethereal and symphonic, but still with enough movement to make it fit for pop radio.

He went to the telephone, hit the speed dial.

“What, Bobby?” said Brandon Spencer.

“I was thinking,” Bobby said. “The studio. I was hoping we could get back in there. I think our fans are ready for some new material.”

There was silence on the other end. Then, “Bobby, you’re not in The Spences anymore. You signed brand rights over to me and cousin Mike years ago, remember?” Brandon sounded worried.

Bobby hung up, braced himself against the wall. When the vertigo passed, he went to the window and looked out at his car. Lola was in the passenger’s seat, waiting. He knew what he needed to do.

-

Bobby waited until almost two in the morning. By then, Lola was gone again, but he wasn't worried.

The parking lot outside the studio was empty, the gardens overgrown. No surprise, Bobby thought. The Spences hadn't recorded anything new in years.

Of course, Bobby didn't really need a key to get in. He scrambled up the old fire escape ladder to the roof. The fire door was unlocked, and soon Bobby was brushing cobwebs out of his face as he went down the old emergency staircase.

A few dark hallways later and Bobby was in the room where The Spences had orchestrated their success. He went into the recording booth, ran his hands over the soundboard, sat down in the creaking desk chair. He could smell the lingering booze sweat. He leaned back in the chair and lit a cigarette. The song from the phantom ad swirled around in his head, the verses, bridge, and chorus like currents and eddies that buffeted the inside of his skull.

On the wall was an old-fashioned painting of a pinup girl with bright, starry eyes and an I-dare-you look on her face. Lola was written in loopy cursive near one of her feet.

When he looked out into the studio again, his session musicians were in position, waiting for his count off.

“From the top,” Bobby said into the intercom. “One-and-two-and-three-and-four. Two-and-two-and-three-and--” the band kicked into Back to Sun Beach. It was the song that was from--would be in--the commercial, exactly as Bobby had heard it in his living room.

Lola stepped out of the painting, cigarette smoldering between her fingers, eyes glowing thermonuclear. She ashed onto the dusty floor and the world flared into a white-hot conflagration of sound and heat. Bobby waved his hands, counted the beats, laughed like a child. This was more than cars and girls, more than gyrating hips and screaming fans. This was the roar of a supernova, channeled into song by the cosmos's very own one and only Bobby Spence.

Lola's eyes went wide with fear. She opened her mouth. "Bobby!" she shouted in his brother's voice.

And then the session musicians were gone. The studio outside the recording booth was dark. Bobby blinked, and the booth was burning. Cigarette butts were scattered around his feet. One or two still had red cherries.

Lola was back in the painting, her frame melting around her.

“Jesus Christ,” said a voice from the doorway. Brandon was covering his mouth and nose with one arm and squinting against the smoke. With his free hand, he pulled out his phone and dialed 9-1-1. Bobby smiled faintly up at his brother.

“I think I've got the makings of a real hit on our hands. I think the world is finally gonna understand what I've been trying to say this whole time,” Bobby wheezed. "It's not just cars and girls, you know. It's not just dead stars."

By the time his brother dragged him from the building and fire crews arrived, it was dawn. Bobby hummed to himself as they strapped him to the stretcher and placed an oxygen mask over his face. The last thing he saw before he was loaded into the ambulance was Lola, hairless and glistening with raw burns, smiling at him from the edge of the overgrown parking lot.

Bobby smiled back. He wrapped the last shreds of his mind around the memory of the song, and let himself slip away into the vacuum of unconsciousness, a limp astronaut.

The sun rose on a new day, just like any other. It was done. Not well, but close enough.

The Saddest Rhino
Apr 29, 2009

Behold my brain the golden throne of my consciousness. In here I am seated. Shackled. From here I police the land.



Hey, if I could find out from entrants what particular type of music / song you have in mind which inspires your story (if applicable, but understandable if your story doesn't have one in mind), that would be great. I like listening to new music!

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


i am having fun stirring up trouble and i'm not even in this week :waycool:

Amused Frog
Sep 8, 2006
Waah no fair my thread!

I'm getting in inside the 12-hour, extra 250 word mark, but I'm not going to use them because I'm not a whiny baby (I might be a whiny baby). I wrote this yesterday (UK time) and went through it again this morning because if you had any other brief or were submitting for a call from publishers why would you send it on the last day?



A Year to Change the World
- 1025 words

The city lay before them. Strange how a single star can steal the eye, and change the shape of the night.

And nights had been identical until now.

Their battered van entered the city unseen as dusk hit. Micro drove while the others slept. Micro always drove because only Micro knew where they were going.

Tonight, it was open air. The van stopped in a park and they unloaded. Word got around as it did in every city. None of them left the park but when they were ready to begin the crowd reached halfway to the gates. Half an hour in and it was spilling onto the streets.

They met a year before. Michael, Mac, Lisa and James found a violinist playing in a bar with silence all around him. When he finished an uninterrupted, hour-long set, he introduced himself as Micro and walked off stage.

Michael didn't stay to applaud. He ran across the room, through the door Micro disappeared into and caught him in the alley. They went to another bar. Mac, Lisa and James joined them and they set off at dawn.

Since then, every day was the same.

They arrived in a new city at dusk no matter the distance. They'd play through the night, owners and law enforcement ignoring closing times as venues became packed far past capacity. Every morning, they left, each city disappearing behind them as the sun touched it.

Tonight, Micro was incredible. Every time they slowed, he'd wait a minute, allowing each of them to flourish to the audience. His talent spilt to the others, as it did every night, but each evening they felt it more. Michael and James would pass a riff off to each other and into some new, entirely improvised duet, fingers dancing across the frets. Lisa's bass echoed in hearts as electricity danced between her fingertips to make every string sing. Mac could see the patterns in his drums' taut skins. He could turn the wind in the trees to a thunder clap, a tapping foot to an earthquake.

And when each had had their turn, there was Micro, pulling the audience back to him. It was music that played on every cell of your body. You remembered crawling on all fours as your mother watched. Pride at your first word. First kisses, first loves, first losses. Crying at funerals. Wars on TV. Everything. When they were done, Michael, Mac, Lisa and James knew things had changed as they knew things did every night they played. They could feel it in the crowd.

That night, for the first time, Micro spoke after a show. "I need a drink," he said. Michael went with him while Mac, Lisa and James finished packing.

They sat, each with a large, cold glass of beer, in the only bar they'd found open. Apart from them, it was empty. Even the bartender had disappeared. "It's the same every night," Micro said. "Every night we play, then we leave. And people might remember the gig, but what do they take from it? Do they change when we play?"

Michael stayed quiet. He didn't know what to say. Micro rarely spoke and, when he did, it was never like this.

"The next morning, in every city, people go back to their jobs. They say goodbye to the people they love and walk out the door. Every meal they eat with their closest and dearest could be their last and they ignore it. They all stay the same."

A cold stone grew in Michael's stomach. Every moment he'd been with this band had been joyous. Micro had brought them something they'd never known before, but to know he felt like this about what they did was awful. "That's why you play?" Michael asked.

Micro carried on as if he hadn't heard him. "I'm not even Micro really. I'm Junior. My name's Junior. Labelling me as the progeny. Labelling me as lesser."

"But the music. It's beautiful. It's amazing. Have you seen how people stare? How they act when we play?"

Now, Micro acknowledged Michael. He looked him in the eye and paused for a moment. "So what?" he said. "So what if they care while we play? I need more than that, Michael. The world is a terrible, terrible place. They can't just listen and leave. They can't just go back to doing what they did before or me playing for them is pointless. Me being here is pointless.

And Michael shut up. Until then, he'd believed in the change he felt in the crowds. When he talked to Mac, Lisa and James about it, they said they felt it too. But to sit here and hear Micro say it was false was a violation. If Micro felt that then it must be true. They finished their drinks in silence. When they left, Micro walked in the opposite direction to the van. Michael didn't follow.

For two days, they waited for Micro to return. They stayed in the same city without playing. They barely talked.

On the second night in their cheap hotel room, the setting sun shining through faded curtains, Mac spoke.

"We can't go on. Not without Micro," he said.

"It doesn't feel right. It doesn't feel the same," said Lisa.

"We should give up. Go home," said James, "flip burgers."

And Michael's doubt left him. His friends had believed in what they were doing. The faces in the crowd hadn't been a lie. They didn't have Micro, but they still had their music, could still make that difference. And that's what he told them.

On the third day, they left the city at dawn and arrived in another at dusk. They set up and they played, without Micro, but with belief in their music. The crowds weren't as big as when Micro was with them, and they didn't play as late as when Micro was with them, but they could still see the difference in the faces in the crowd.

Their van left the city as the sun rose on a new day, just like any other. It was done. Not well, but close enough.

December Octopodes
Dec 25, 2008

Christmas is coming
the squid is getting fat!


1257 words I went ahead and added the extra words. I was late, no excuse.

The city lay before them. Strange how a single star can steal the eye, and change the shape of the night. St. Petersburg was silent and calm. The assistant reminisced about his youth before he met Scriabin, before his destiny. Scriabin himself dreamed of the song he had created, the song that would end humanity. Every note, every chord echoed in his head as a crooked smile spread upon his face. The flight to the Himalayas was in their near future, and with the help of his trusted assistant he would escort humanity to a higher existence.

The star had first grabbed his attention long ago, when he was just a child, but ever since it had filled his mind. Images of far off places, impossible angles, and sounds unknown to human kind filled his dreams. The star of Sirius, to so many just a regular star, was so much more to little Scriabin. Ever since he was in grade school it shaped him, sculpted him, and somehow planned every feverish, intricate step of his exterior life. He had been hailed as a genius, a prodigy, but the truth is, without that star he was nothing. Every song he ever wrote seemed to start with an image of the star, and only the faintest echoes of screams in the background. It had guided his every step and even

Years later, his health failing, he adopted a child to help him carry out his magnum opus. Performers the world over would be present, representing the best of musical and visual arts. The Apocalypse, with bells fastened to the very clouds would summon the spectators, those ancient beings, and usher in a new era of peace and understanding. He had arranged the song years ago, but the necessary details had eluded him. He locked himself away for ages working with scientists and blacksmiths on the finest of metals to create a net capable of hanging from a cloud. Another year was spent on creating a bell that had both the right tone and an effervescent presence just light enough to truly hang from a cloud. All of these details came together as he guided his assistant, shaped his young mind to observe the star and hear its message.

The assistant was going mad. At six years of age Scriabin had plucked him out of an orphanage, and at first he was excited to learn about music and how to create symphonies. Once he progressed far enough though, it all changed. The lessons, once pleasant exercises, were now tinged with madness as Scriabin would talk about a star that simply did not exist. He pretended to see it, after all this man had put food on the table before his mind started to go. He fantasized about killing him, seeing the blood spread in scarlet tendrils. Every time he thought about the song it made him angry. All of his hard work at becoming a composer like his adoptive father, and now this mess? He felt as if he was a joke, some punchline to something he didn't understand. This final work of Scriabin's made no sense, the melody, the rhythm, the chords that were formed all seemed fractured and incomplete.

The flight towards Nepal took hours, and Scriabin's humming dug deeper into the assistant's mind. Every dissonant note humming, droning, and slowly driving the assistant mad. On landing, they were greeted by a veritable mob of Sherpas, all prepared to lift the crates containing the elements of the symphony. The ascent was treacherous, and a landslide delayed them for an entire night. They lost a guide to the snowfall, and all that was left was a kukri. The assistant hardly knew what he was doing as he picked up the kukri and tucked it away in his own small bag. Later that night he sat in his tent, and slowly sharpened it. As he did, his own song sprung to mind. A few notes at first, simple, with a warlike beat. A song to shed blood by.

The next day was bright and beautiful, with just a few clouds in the sky. They ascended the peak, and saw Everest floating in the background on a sea of clouds. The Sherpas slowly opened up the crates and made their preparations according to Scriabin's orders. Somehow, the nets attached to these ornate bells were supposed to be light enough to fasten on clouds and actually lift them. Scriabin opened his pocket watch, and making a few calculations, ordered two guides to take the edges of the net. On three, they threw the net at a passing cloud, and impossibly enough it caught. The assistant stared in awe as the bell slowly rose into the air.

After the first bell the others rose quickly, and before the sun touched the horizon the preparations were ready. With the bells hung they descended further into the foothills, and waited for the performers to arrive. They arrived from around the globe, dancers, choirs, and the best orchestras in the world. At last the symphony began, a few chords that managed to soothe the assistant. The blade he had sharpened stayed safely tucked away. The next days went by in a blur, and suddenly the final day was upon them. The performance carried on until the sun was just peeking over the horizon, prepared to usher in nightfall.

As the orchestra played the final measures, Scriabin ascended the mountain with his assistant close behind him. Unlike before, there were no Sherpas. The music played into the night as they made their way to the lonely peak. As they began climbing the final length, the miraculous cloud bells began to sound. One by one, the bells rang out as some force acted upon them. As each one sounded, the net suspending them snapped, sending them tumbling through the clouds to produce a tortured clang.

This was the moment Scriabin had waited for, when everything old would be swept away. The other instruments died down, and the only thing left was the bells. The last bell rung out and the assistant saw red. One moment later, the kukri in his hand he slit Scriabin's throat. As he watched the blood spread out, he sang his war song and watched the horizon. The earth trembled as the final cloud bells rolled down hill clanging out, mixing with his own notes to create the complete chords that Scriabin needed. No expense had been spared, and nothing overlooked in Scriabin's preparation. The musical education of his assistant was just one part, as the work on the Apocalypse helped create the murderous state of mind that was necessary.

Scriabin had known he wouldn't see his work finish, and knew the final notes would be provided by his own assistant. The tremors grew in strength, and hundreds of miles away, the waves grew in intensity crashing upon the shore. The assistant realized he had been used, and yet the world didn't end. As he made his way down, he noted a star he had never noticed before twinkling in the sky. Deep below in the ocean something stirred for a moment, reached through angles unknown to man and then hit snooze. The trembling came to a halt, and the ocean waves soon calmed. As it shifted over to its other side it muttered something which could most closely be translated as "One more eon."

The sun rose on a new day, just like any other. It was done. Not well, but close enough.

hot salad
Jun 25, 2005

Did you just say
the word 'scoff'?


The Saddest Rhino posted:

Hey, if I could find out from entrants what particular type of music / song you have in mind which inspires your story (if applicable, but understandable if your story doesn't have one in mind), that would be great. I like listening to new music!

Didn't have it in mind while writing but now that I'm done, this is the song in my heart/liver: Let's All Go to the Bar



Tried to keep it short since this is the first story I've actually written & completed in a long, long time:


The Big Break (821 Words) Google Doc link

The city lay before them. Strange how a single star can steal the eye, and change the shape of the night. It was amazing to be able to see any stars at all in LA, even just the one, when the lights from the streets below set fire to the night sky.

After changing the flat tire, Chris took a long pause before getting back into his van - which split duty as both his home and tour bus. That first part had never exactly come up in conversation with Marshall, who was asleep in the passenger seat. Chris was always too amped up after a show to sleep, and now had to drive a day north to get to their next gig anyway.

He slept very little in recent months.

They had only played as far as San Francisco, but Chris talked his way into a show in Portland and Marshall went with it. “As long as you drive.”

So Chris drove. He wrote all the parts of all the songs, owned and transported all the equipment, and he did most of the set up before and after shows - usually without Marshall. And Chris did it all willingly, to keep chasing the momentary happiness that music, and nothing else, could provide him. All this made it easier for him to justify lying to Marshall about how much they were being paid and taking larger and larger cuts of the payments. Still, Chris thought of Marshall as a brother and it wore on him every day.

When Marshall woke up it was light out and they were somewhere in the mysterious grey area known as the Pacific Northwest.

“You ever been this far north?” Chris asked.

“Where the hell are we?”

“No idea. Everything past Sacramento looks the same: a lot of nothing.”

“That’s probably why I’ve never been here. How did you even manage to book a show all the way out here?”

“The same way I managed to talk you into playing drums for me. Promises and lies, bud,” Chris said only half-joking, not that Marshall noticed.

“It’s the least I could do, I did some dumb poo poo back in the day. I don’t know how else I would have made it home sometimes.”

“We all did stupid things, we were young. We’re still young...ish.”

“But the dumb poo poo you did was like, telling girls you invented Facebook or something. Which would have worked if you didn’t always blow it and admit you were bullshitting them.”

His hands clenched tight around the steering wheel, Chris said, “Well, we’ve all come a long way. You haven’t walked uninvited into any house parties and relentlessly hit on the host’s girlfriend lately.”

“God, that happened more than a few times didn’t it?” Marshall paused. “How many times have you literally saved my life?”

“Eh, you were never that bad,” Chris deflected, but then he thought harder about those days. “Usually.” Chris laughed to try and make it seem like a joke. There was no shortage of close calls and rough nights carrying Marshall home after a few too many drinks and pissing off a few too many people.

***

They rolled into Portland with a few hours to kill before the show. Marshall went out to explore while Chris stayed at the venue and watched over the equipment, eventually setting up when it came time.

Marshall returned in time to help with the last few things and asked, “How much are we getting paid for this one?” Marshall didn’t usually ask directly.

“Everything okay?”

“Well--my parents are threatening to stop paying for my apartment,” Marshall said.

Chris recalled Marshall telling him about a similar threat almost ten years prior, when they were in school together. “Oh,” was all Chris could say, his justifications crumbling.

He made up a number.

***

After the show Chris was buzzing as always. More people than he expected showed up, and they brought a lot of energy to the show, which both Chris and Marshall needed at that point.

Chris played every show in a trance, driven by Marshall’s frenetic drumming and the general rush of being on stage. Sometimes he could even look out at the crowd and see that they were in the same trance, and in those moments he thought he felt true, unspeakable joy. Tonight was one of those nights. But he could see Marshall was not sharing that feeling. Still distracted.

“Marshall. There’s something I gotta tell you.” He came clean about the money and living in the van.

The pause lasted longer than any feeling of joy that Chris had ever felt. Marshall finally said, “Can we just go home now?”

Chris drove, Marshall sat awake in the passenger seat. Many hours passed in silence, and would be followed by many more.

The sun rose on a new day, just like any other. It was done. Not well, but close enough.

Thalamas
Dec 5, 2003

Sup?

Battle of the Band 1086 words

The city lay before them. “Strange how a single star can steal the eye, and change the shape of the night,” Davey said, and smashed his empty Corona bottle on my garage floor.

I cringed. “Don’t be melodramatic, Davey.” He insisted on breaking all his drat bottles, said it was punk. My kids played in the driveway and it was hell cleaning up all the glass. I swiveled back and forth in front of my drum set.

Davey grabbed another of my Coronas. “loving big bands ruin everything, Chuck. If Broadband Pavement wasn’t coming to town tonight, we’d have fifty, maybe a hundred people at our gig. Now I bet we’ll have like, ten. Twenty, tops.” He sang like an angel and whined like a bitch. Davey took a swig, then kicked over his mic stand.

Jeremy choked on his beer, spitting it up all over his XXXL shirt. “Dude, we only have one of those since you broke the last one.” He cradled his guitar in both huge hands, making it look like a toy.

“Well, I’m not going to stand for this poo poo any more! Local bands got it tough enough. Davey, out.” He stalked through the open garage door toward his ’83 Corolla, still holding his beer.

“Davey, we got a show tonight. Where are you going?” I asked.

He just flipped us the bird as he drove away.

Jeremy looked to me. “What do we do, Chuck?”

The sun was headed down fast. I checked my watch. “Let’s get this glass cleaned up. We’ve got a couple of hours before we need to get the van loaded up. Give him some time to cool off and we’ll try to get him to meet us at the show.” Jeremy nodded.

----

My phone was ringing and the caller id said Wheeler. I tapped Accept. “Go for Chuck.”

“Hey kid, you sitting down?” Wheeler asked in his usual clipped monotone.

“Uh, no.”

“Sit the gently caress down.”

I sat. Jeremy finished sweeping up glass and dumped it in the garbage.

“Better.” How did Wheeler always know? “I got us a big fish. The opener for Broadband Pavement has the Hungarian Flu or some poo poo, so they need a stand in. You do well, they might hold you over a while. I cancelled your gig for tonight.”

“No poo poo?!”

“Yeah, kid. No poo poo. Show’s at ten, be there at nine to set up. You know the place.” He hung up.

Jeremy walked over with my broom. It looked like he was holding a twig. “What’s going on?” I told him the news and watched as the wooden handle snapped. “Really? We gotta call Davey!” he said, voice changing from bass to baritone.

Davey did not pick up. He didn’t pick up at home or on his cell. “Call The Swamp,” Jeremy suggested.

The bartender answered. “What?” The sound of bottles breaking against brick filled the line.

“Is Davey there?”

“No.” Click.

“gently caress!” I slapped a crash cymbal.

Jeremy righted the mic stand and stood in front of it, shuffling his feet. “I wish you wouldn’t curse so much, Chuck,” he said into the microphone, and my neighbor’s car alarm started whooping. He stepped back, face red. “Sorry.”

“Can you sing and play guitar at the same time?” I asked.

“Uh, sure. I could play guitar and fight a bear with my feet at the same time, Chuck.”

“Okay, I have a plan.”

----

“You guys are on in five,” a dude said. He was giving us the stink eye. I watched as Jeremy knelt and clasped his hands together. He looked up at the ceiling and started moving his lips.

“We’ll be ready.” I peeked past the curtain and saw two-thousand screaming fanatics there to see a band that wasn’t us.

My phone rang, an unknown number. “Go for Chuck.”

“Chuck, it’s Davey. Can you come bail me out? loving pigs got me on a DUI.”

“Sorry, man. We gotta go open for Broadband Pavement. Maybe tomorrow?”

“What the gently caress? You can’t play without me. You’re nothing without me!”

“You know what, Davey, you can gently caress off. Wishing us good luck would have been nice.” I hung up and put in my ear plugs.

My heart was pounding and there was roaring in my ears. It sounded like the ocean and I wasn’t sure if it was the audience or my own blood. Maybe tonight they were the same thing. “Let’s go, man. Time to do this. Time to rock and roll!” We walked out onto the stage. I sat down on my stool. It took me two tries to pull the drumsticks out of my back pocket. Jeremy picked up his guitar and settled it around his neck. We can do this. Don’t panic. Don’t loving panic, I thought.

The lights went out.

The curtain rose and the noise doubled. I drummed out a 4/4 beat and Jeremy launched into the into a G-D-Em-C chord progression. Spotlights flared on, illuminating us. The bass from my kicks rumbled through the chests of every god damned person there, but it had nothing on Jeremy as he sang.

“Stretch out your hand across the seat
We’ve got miles to ride
No time to waste, the world to see
Baby, there’s a place for you and me

Tell me how to glow
I’ve lost that magic touch
And the coals burn low, low, low

We travel the desert holding hands
Got those wandering feet
But it’s our final resting place, the last land
Honey, sit beside me in the sand

Teach me how to sow
I need your magic touch
Cause the coals burn low, low, low

Hand in hand you’re by my side
The road commands
But stay a while, become my bride
Sweetheart, we have time to bide

I just gotta know
‘bout your magic touch
When the coals burn low, low, low

Yeah, I gotta know
All about your magic touch
When the coals burn low, low, low.”


For a moment, everything was still and quiet. Jeremy was looking down at his feet again, then he looked up to the crowd and said, “Hello Portland! I’m Jeremy and this is Chuck and we’re the Burning Coals!” They went loving wild.

The rest of the show went downhill fast, but that one song was flawless and the night was over before I knew it. The sun rose on a new day, just like any other. It was done. Not well, but close enough.

docbeard
Jul 18, 2011

Modern worldly poster

Honor Her
1235 Words

docbeard fucked around with this message at 15:47 on Dec 29, 2014

Alpacalips Now
Oct 4, 2013


Golden Revelation (1262 words)

The city lay before them. Strange how a single star can steal the eye, and change the shape of the night. This was especially true for Austin Wright. For eight months, he had been communicating with a new star astronomers believed to be a mere supernova. He nodded to it and uttered "Kamaq" under his breath. For now, Kamaq was silent, and Austin felt relief knowing it trusted him enough to fulfill the promise he had made. He sunk into a folding chair beside his former partner-in-crime, Tony. Their interviewer, a freckled college girl with a half-sleeve cat tattoo, flashed the OK sign.
"Hi," she chirped to her mic, "I'm Reese Goss, way up on Lefonte Hill with Austin 'drat' Wright and Tony Morales of No Sleep, who will be rapping at the States Streets Benefit tonight. How does it feel to be going onstage again?"
He grinned and began reciting the gist of the script he'd written the night before.
"We're actually going on as solo acts. A lot's happened in the last year, and we're just not ready to start up No Sleep again."
Tony leaned towards the mic.
"You're gonna see lots of new material, though. I've been hitting the lab since the last tour, and I'm pretty excited to get it out there."
Reese turned to her laptop.
"You put up a demo track. Mind if I play it so we can get a little taste of what's to come?"
"Sure!"
"Ok! Here's Tony Morales's 'Broken Home.'"
The compressed strings faded in, and Austin winced. After Tony's opening "uh", the strings dropped and a hi-hat sample he'd heard before played over what could have been breaking glass. The best thing Austin could say about Tony's flow was that, despite the cheap mike's cheap mic's distortion, it was audible. Reese maintained a smile and paused after exactly thirty seconds.
"That was Tony Morales's 'Broken Home.' Austin, what can we expect from your set?"
"I'm gonna keep it a surprise. And, I just want to remind you all, tonight is for the businesses and homes hit by the tornado. Come out and support the community!"
"That's right!" Reese said. "Now before I let you go, what do you say to the rumors that you spent last year hitchhiking across South America?"
"Last year was rough. Really personal stuff. I did a little traveling; I feel better about it now."
"We're excited to have you back! Thanks for your time."

During sound check, Austin slipped away from the crowd and stage lights and lit up a menthol next to the dumpster where he'd smoked his first cigarette. Kamaq winked at him from beyond the haze, and the ease he felt during the interview slipped away. His performace would be Event Horizon. Point of No Return. He smelled the smoke of a Turkish Silver and realized Tony had beaten him there.
"Still our favorite spot," Tony said, flicking his ash.
"Guess so. So that 'Broken Home' track's for real?"
"gently caress yeah. It'll sound good live."
"With the strings and poo poo?" Austin laughed. "Who produced that?"
"Remember my cousin, Armando?"
"Ain't he, like, sixteen years old?"
"Yeah, three years ago. Now he's in this audio engineering program." He took a drag. "You're talking like No Sleep's back together or something. Ready to get back in it?"
"Not yet. Listen, you got to make me a promise."
Tony nodded. Austin, watching Kamaq from the corner of his eye, spoke softly.
"At the end of my set, I'm gonna say some really wild stuff. Even if it sounds like I'm tripping, make sure no one interrupts me until the end."
"What? Is this gonna be some peyote bruja bullshit?"
"It's something I need to get off my chest, and everyone needs to hear."
His cigarette drooped in his mouth.
"Sure. Good to have you back."

The festival began. Folk, blues, reggae and rock acts streamed on and off the stage until the families went home to tuck in their kids. The night belonged to rappers. When it came time for Tony's set, the crowd drifted towards the concession stands and port-a-johns after the second song. Tony's set lasted twenty-five minutes, but to Austin, it seemed two hours. He smoked two cigarettes, glancing between puffs at the star watching him from beyond the city's haze. Finally, Tony burst backstage and threw his arm over his shoulder.
"Man," he said with a laugh, "you were loving right. Best of luck."
Austin grabbed Tony's shirt as he turned towards the hospitality tent.
"Remember your promise?" he said.
Austin felt Kamaq's presence pass through his mind, a hum that was an echo of an echo, yet overwhelmed his every sense. Tony jolted away from his friend and stared at him like a cockroach had crawled from his mouth.
"What was that?" he gasped.
"Keep just offstage."
Austin walked on. As he took his position, he could not see Kamaq, but even through the glare of stage lights, he felt the star's gaze. He tore through his set, rapping No Sleep songs the crowd hadn't heard live in a year. Too many cigarettes and the Antiplano's relentless dust had roughened his voice, but he did not miss a beat. The crowd surged and cheered. His set ended with a roar of applause, and Austin trembling with fear and joy.
Tony stood just offstage, scanning the crowd. Reese, who'd taken over emcee duties, stepped onstage, joining the applause.
"Listen," Austin said, "this is important."

We didn't sign up for no armageddon but that's what we're gettin.
Kamaq has risen! And as the devils take position, we all sleep, lie and-


Reese tore out the PA's cables. A murmur rose. Tony rushed the PA. Austin felt Hagaat again. In a voice greater than his own, he bellowed the prophecy.

Kamaq has risen! War is coming! A red tide from space.
War! To subjugate the human race. Kamaq has risen!


A gun barrel gleamed at the edge of his vision. Reese, eyes bulging behind her cat-eye glasses, gripped a pistol with both hands. Tony stepped between them and seized her wrists.

Children of Inti! Drop your weapons, let the false world die!

The gun jumped off twice. Lights exploded above Austin, showering him in sparks.

Children of Inti! Murder your false egos and pray to the sky!
Kamaq will build our golden road! Kamaq has risen!


The gunshots had sent the crowd to the fences. Austin noticed a few look up and watch a golden ribbon flicker as it wound through the sky towards Kamaq. Despite the glorious vision, he felt heavy with shame. He feared that few among them would heed his warning. He remembered Tony.
Austin stumbled away from the lights, gasping for breath. He shuddered with relief when he saw that Tony had pinned Reese to the ground and kicked away the gun. Foam issued from Reese lips. She snapped her teeth.
"What is this poo poo?" Tony roared.
"I'm really sorry, man. The world is changing, and you're part of the change now. We must find the other prophets and form an army."
"gently caress your peyote bullshit! Where's the cops?"
Concert security swarmed them and pried them apart. Reese bit the guard and made a dash for the gun. Austin tackled her. Her head struck an amp, and she stopped moving.

Kamaq be praised, the police pressed no charges against Austin. He and Tony stumbled out of the station. The sun rose on a new day, just like any other. It was done. Not well, but close enough.

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

Ignore this post; archiving is a process fraught with danger and accidental quotes.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


EDIT:
Against my better judgment, I'm gonna drop this here: http://tindeck.com/listen/uadg
Trigger warning: vocal flubs, potentially terrible singing

Over and Over (Again and Again)
1273 words

The city lay before them. Strange how a single star could steal the eye, and change the shape of the night.

Kristine stood at the edge of Washington Square Park, leaning against the back of a park bench where two preteen girls were chatting to each other, their voices trilling like party favors. She stared up at her sister, splayed across the billboard, the midnight sky millions of miles behind her. Melissa was laying on her side, dressed in a tight black catsuit that made her lithe silhouette pop off of the white background. Her mouth was a singularity in red lipstick, and she was giving everyone in the park below BDSM-eyes. The name Melissa Rave was written below her in black script like a fine shadow.

Melissa always introduced Kristine to others as “the musically talented one.” At family gatherings, group dates, one of two record-release parties. If she was sober, this was sometimes preceded by Melissa introducing herself as “the pretty one.” Usually Kristine responded to the introduction with a smile, a shrug, maybe a quick one-word assertion. She knew that her sister thought that she was musically talented, and that it was something that had always frustrated the poo poo out of her.

“I swear to God I’m going to break the lock on your door,” Melissa had said to her back when they were both in high school. “Just get a crowbar and bash it to pieces. I don’t know why you just hole up in your room and play guitar all day.”

“So I don’t have to hear you singing along to Genie In A Bottle,” said Kristine without looking up, “for the seventh time.”

“You don’t do poo poo,” said Melissa. “I’m going to go to LA and become a superstar, and I bet you’ll still be here, right where you left yourself, like a lazy-rear end, smelling like pot and—“ Then Kristine had slammed the bedroom door in her face.

Kristine held her guitar in her right hand and turned around. She looked out at the crowded park, all fans of her sister, people that had stuck by her even through her rough patches, her fits of desperation. There were tweens and teens in cold-weather shorts, guys holding on to their young girlfriends, young gay guys with glittery posters and signs, drag queens in long black wigs making strangled attempts at Melissa’s whistle-tone. People Melissa hadn’t remembered existed. They were all waiting.

She thought of the newsstand in front of her apartment building that displayed the weekly tabloids, their headlines stark white and simple. For almost a month after the news broke, Kristine used the back way to get in and out of her apartment, just to avoid being bombarded with the bad news on a regular basis, to avoid words like BREAKDOWN and ABUSE and COMMITTED, DIVA DOWN, RAVING MAD. If she’d had to use the fire escape, she would have.

Kristine bent low, shrank under her hooded sweatshirt, and walked to the center of the park. She stopped, took a deep breath, and began to play: Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you…”Happy Birthday, Dear Melissa…” she sang, forcing the words out.

The crowd exploded in a wave of noise and cheering, radiating outward through the entire park until she was suddenly surrounded by a mass of fans, shouting, laughing, singing along with her. Kristine began to speak, and the crowd shushed itself.

“Thanks for coming out tonight, everyone!” Kristine shouted, her voice straining.

More cheers, whoops, we-love-yous.

“It’s my sister’s birthday tonight, and I think we should do something special for her,” she shouted, holding the guitar over her head like a torch. Her arm was shaking. “What do you think?”

They lined up at the back door of her camper, parked on the street about a block away. The line snaked around the block and back around the park, nearly endless. Then they entered the camper and sat down across from Kristine as she waited, a tape recorder on the table next to her. They all sat down, and as Kristine plucked a few opening notes on her guitar, they each began to sing:

I think about you, every night, every day
I dream of waking up, don’t wanna be in love
You left a song inside me when you went away
Now I’m falling from the stars, don’t wanna hit the ground too hard

My heart is singing it oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-ver and over again
singing it oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-ver and over again
singing it oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-ver and over again
and I can’t let go, no I can’t let go

The rain is falling on your rental car
I watch you watching me, you can’t say what you see
Now the water’s flowing down the boulevard
The lightning makes no sound, but your thunder knocks me down

My heart is singing it oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-ver and over again
singing it oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-ver and over again
singing it oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-ver and over again
and I can’t let go, no I can’t let go


About three hours in, a guy in his twenties with blonde hair sat down in front of her and said he didn’t know the song.

“How do you not know the song?” said Kristine. “It just came out a couple months ago.”

“I haven’t listened to much of her recent stuff,” the guy admitted. He looked sheepish. “Maybe you could sing it for me?”

Kristine sat up straight, her hands gripping her knees. “Yeah,” she said, “yeah, sure, I could do that.” She set her guitar down on the floor and rested a finger on the pause button of the running tape recorder. She would turn it off. This wasn’t about her. She would turn it off, and show him how the song went.

She began to sing, her voice wavering, her shoulders tense. Her finger was still on the button, she would press it before the song ended. Before she got to the bridge after the second chorus, which she sang with her eyes closed, trembling, the words fighting their way out of her like something growing, something that needed air:

Lie awake, like I made, your mistakes
As your song runs
Through my brain
Feeling cold, lie alone, die at home, on my own
And it won’t be
Won’t be in vain

Or maybe it’ll just be insane


She finished a minute later and caught her breath, then took her hand away from the tape recorder, still running. The guy applauded. “Not bad,” he said.

When the sky slowly got lighter, Kristine walked out from the camper and waved the rest of the people in line forward. She started to play, and they all sang together, the music building and swelling as they joined each other, letting Kristine get lost in the sound, not wanting to open her eyes in case she saw herself in the massive crowd, singing along:

My heart is singing it oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-ver and over again
singing it oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-ver and over again
singing it oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-ver and over again
and I wanna let go, but I won’t let go



She thought about them as she drove back through the city streets, the tape recorder nestled between her thigh and the center console, the radio off. She knew some people in LA, remembered some names. She didn’t know what she would do once she found her sister, or if either of them had the capability of doing the right thing anymore. What she’d just done felt right, at least.

The sun rose on a new day, just like any other. It was done. Not well, but close enough.

Ironic Twist fucked around with this message at 18:57 on Aug 17, 2014

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Kaishai posted:

Ignore this post; archiving is a process fraught with danger and accidental quotes.

Hammer Bro.
Jul 7, 2007

THUNDERDOME LOSER




What's up, on-time buddy? The roommate gods are generously absent, so you win a prize!

Comet Song

Edit:

Thalamas posted:

Battle of the Band

All right, one more because it struck my fancy. This one's a little less musical but a little more dramatic. I don't think I've ever deliberately composed a song before, certainly never sung one. If you'd ask me how I think I'd done, I'd say, "Not well, but close enough."

Battle of the Band

Hammer Bro. fucked around with this message at 20:48 on Aug 17, 2014

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk







lambeth posted:

I'm only sort of a newbie, but I'll take one.

lambeth posted:

A Constant Itching Behind the Eyelids (1104 words) good title

“Room 136.” The lobby smells like someone took a poo poo in it, even with the door open and a fan in the corner going, each pushing the baked stale air back at each other. If you've got a tight sweet opener then let it, uh, breathe The desk girl only half-hides her staring when my arm twitches repeatedly, but hey, she’s got a massive centipede curled around her forehead who drools all down her cheeks, so who is she to judge? overcomplicated construction, and you should put more effort into your (pretty cool) Burroughsing when you introduce it. you hosed up the tenses which means it lands with a wet flumph rather than a punch.

Six PM, only the lamp near the bed works while I pick at my shithouse burger and fries. Everything is still frozen in the center, and only the popcorn button works on the microwave; by the time I get it blazing hot, it all tastes like rubber. Twelve AM, I read through a grey-and-brown stained copy of Naked Lunch that someone gave me at some point. Never has it been more boring. maybe a bit too arch, here Six AM, still awake. Still awake. Still awake. My right leg jerks every thirty minutes. My record for the last however many months this has been going on (three? five?) has been five hours a week. Most weeks it’s been three.

I reach into my wallet and pull out the heavily-creased photo. Julie and Jacob and I, all smiling; Jacob beaming, showing both rows of teeth in his little red sweater as Julie and I hold him in our arms. Thank God for life insurance.

I’m gonna meet the man at eight, so I skip the stale bagels in the lobby and take a shower, check out. I get there early and smoke a while among the bums who sleep on the row of benches along the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The guy is late, and I browse through a gift shop full of postcards with terrible puns until he touches me on the shoulder and we head out.

“You got the photo?” he says, and I nod and pull it out of my wallet. He jabs viciously at the picture twice. “That one.” I squint in the glaring daylight and see a man—tanned with muscular arms and the kind of swimming pool-blue eyes that you only see in movies. He and Julie and Jacob are all smiling; he and Julie are holding Jacob in their arms while Jacob attempts to grin by showing all his teeth.

“Who’s that?” I’ve never seen this guy before.

The man coughs. “The guy who’s been loving your wife for the last six weeks, idiot. Remember that?”

I really don’t. I have no idea what I came here for, and black scales keep growing and disappearing on this guy’s arms and it’s starting to freak me out. “So what do you want with him?” I ask.

“This prick owes me a lot of money. You want him, I want him, and you’ve got a death sentence hanging over you, so you know, two birds, one stone.”

I clear my throat nervously. Every now and then, my brain catches up with where my body is shuffling along, and I realize for a brief moment that in the fog that is slowly choking off my life, I’ve done something colossally stupid. Usually it’s something like I blink, and I’ve spent the last six hours calling phone sex numbers while a mildly pleasant voice on the line goes “Is there anything else you want me to do, honey? Hello? Hello? You still there?”

“Do you . . . do you have a gun?” It’s a stupid question, I know, and the man looks at me like I’m a goddamn idiot, before handing me a small shopping bag. “Ok . . . cool,” I stammer.

“Meet me on Friday at the same location, eight o’clock,” he says. I nod. “We good?” he continues, and I nod again while trying not to yawn. “Good.” He walks off, hands in his pocket, as I stand there sweating heavily in the sunlight. Behind me, comes a long hacking cough. I turn around and see a bum sitting on one of the chipped green benches. “They put autism in the water, I told the president that, I told him, I sent him five letters in the mail,” he says between coughs, his eyes cloudy. It is a sad thing to be envious of a homeless man. nice

***

“Room 41.” My signature on the receipt is half below the dotted line because my arm twitches halfway through. I want to jump off of the roof today, but the hotel is only one story. The hotel room smells like cat piss mixed with cheap perfume, even after I turn the air conditioning on for three hours. I watch HBO all night while munching on some crushed pretzels that I found at the bottom of my bag. At four AM, The sheets have faded yellow streaks in the corner and the crinkling plastic covering the cups near the sink gets on my nerves. I have a gun but for some reason, I can’t shoot myself. An eternity of—well, don’t say the word. Don’t even think it. When I think about it, my lungs feel like they’re being ripped apart.

I go over to the house at eleven. This guy Julie is loving works from home and in the shopping bag is a crumpled paper bag with a gun in it. Do I know how to use a gun? I don’t know. I have a key that opens the back door and I tiptoe in. Twenty feet away, I hear that dick yapping on the phone. I sneak in behind him; he’ll never see it coming. Except he does, because I’m pretty sure I’ve never used a gun before and my aim is off to the left. I get him in the shoulder on the third shot and then in the chest on the fourth. He’s down and bleeding fast. On his desk is a picture of him and Julie and Jacob lying in the grass and smiling. Jacob’s smile is missing a tooth on the top.

I bolt out and almost trip over a red kid’s bike that fell over in the corner. Wait, isn’t Jacob two. I do the mental math. No, he should still be two—or maybe three at this point? I don’t have time to figure this out, so I slip out the back and run like hell.

***

“Good job,” says the man and hands me a bookbag. Inside should be enough money to get me through another week or two of poo poo-loving existence. “I’ll be in touch with you soon for other opportunities,” he says with a weak smile before walking off. I don’t remember the ride to the airport after that. Ha, so it's Hotline Miami via Dr Benway. I like your setup and while detailed fictionalised miserabilism is often a too-easy route to take, it fits with your strange world. Your details are nicely chosen and the weirdness is presented with fine confident swagger. I don't know what the poo poo is going on but I trust that you do and that lets you land your disorientingly cut-up emotional punch.

sebmojo fucked around with this message at 22:42 on Aug 17, 2014

Obliterati
Nov 13, 2012

Pain is inevitable.
Suffering is optional.
Thunderdome is forever.


Ain't No Devil Can Bring He Down

Words: 1022

The city lay before them. Strange how a single star can steal the eye, and change the shape of the night. “Itsh me,” said the voice in the boot of my car. “I'm the shtar.”

My reverie broke. “Zip it, Dizzy,” I said, and gunned it. “We ain't got time.” Forty: now fifty. The lights of the silent highway flitted, strobe, across my battered Cadillac, yellow and black in the sodium glare. Sixty, and the city stretched like a cat across the field of stars.

“Can I get some whiskey?”

“Hell, no.” I drifted onto the shoulder to shake him up a little. The catseyes hammered the wheels, the old clunker thumping. There was a thud, and a gunshot bang.

“I'm gonna be sick-”

“drat!” I shifted my left foot, and hit the brake. Slowing, we bumped to a stop beneath an old road sign; Now Entering. I didn't trust it. Signs just tell you what you wanna hear. I opened my door, slipped the key from the ignition, and walked back to the boot. “I'll let you out,” I said, “if you promise to be cool.”

Silence.

“Dizzy, you hear me?”

“Yeah, I hear you. I'll be cool. Ain't 'nough room in here, not for me and Michelle both.”

“Alright, man. Car's busted anyhow.” I opened the boot, and Dizzy rolled out. I wrinkled my nose. He was still in his suit from the night before; the jacket was torn, his cuffs still rumpled from stale booze.

He passed me the sax. “Hold onto her a minute,” he said. He shed the jacket and tossed it behind him. “Busted?”

“Busted. We're walking.”

“Any whiskey left?”

I looked him up and down. “What do you think, man? Shake it off and let's move. We got a gig.” I turned and started walking towards the city lights, my feet drumming a beat on the side of the road. Dizzy followed, our steps syncopating just right.

The city sat before them, and sha-dee-ba-bow was it something.

---

They pattered along in the growing gloom. A crossroads lay ahead-

“We ain't gonna make it.”

“Sure we are, Dizzy. We're gonna knock 'em out.”

He stroked Michelle, his right hand gripping the gaps between the keys. Her sheen caught the little light that remained. “It's too far.”

“You gotta have more faith in yourself, buddy,” I said. “You ain't so slow.”

“I'm useless. I can't even-” Something rustled up in the verge ahead.

“Shh,” I said, and dropped into a crouch. We held there a moment.

A voice came out of the darkness. “Well well, what're two homeboys doing skulking around on a night like this? You wearing camouflage or what?” There was a snort, coulda been a laugh. “You guys come out where I can see you. Nice and slow, now.” There was a chk-chk.

I turned to Dizzy. “Be cool,” I whispered, and stood up. “Hey man, we ain't here to make no trouble. Our car broke down, is all. Can't we be civil, now?”

The spark of a lighter revealed the source of the voice about ten feet ahead. The old man laughed through smoke. “Civil? You boys're on my property.”

I looked around. “Who says you own the crossroads, brother?”

He stepped closer, and the shotgun emerged from the dark along with him. He waved it. “This says I do.”

Dizzy twitched. “poo poo.”

“Easy.” I turned to the old guy. “We're just passing through, man. We got music to play up in the city. You let us on by and we won't give you no hassle-”

“Music, huh? You boys ain't no musicians.”

I sighed. “How about we show you, sir? Play you a tune for passage, huh?”

The old man sat down on a rock, shotgun cradled across his lap. “Don't try no funny business,” he said. He reached down, and the tch of a opening can settled the deal.

Dizzy was already staring at the drink. I leaned over. “You know how I said not to get crazy?”

“I said I'm cool, didn't I?”

“I know, man, but let's get crazy,” I said, and tapped him up a beat.

Even hungover, Dizzy didn't need no cue from me. Michelle began to play, and I lifted my voice to match hers. “A-bida-dee ba-bow, a-bida-”

“What the hell you saying there?” The old man rose and came closer. “That ain't no language I know.”

“It's the one I'm singing in, buddy,” I said. “Maybe you want the saxophone in English too?”

“I wouldn't use that tone, boy.”

“Only one I got. Hit it, Dizzy!”

Dizzy launched into a drat fine riff, piercing the darkness like the Devil in heat. He went faster, faster; my tapping foot forced into half-time. Hell.

“That's some funny music you got there,” the old man said, right up in my face. “You've had your fun – now get, before I make wind instruments outta the pair of ya.”

“We ain't finished,” I said. “Dizzy, hit it, man!”

The old man raised the shotgun, but before that bang came he got a thud, as Michelle caught him in the back of the head. He fell in the dust at my feet.

I bent down, and picked up the gun. “Bee-ba-dee bap bow,” I said, turning away, “bee-ba-dee bam boom.”

---

We tossed the gun a few miles down the road, along with the empty can. Below the horizon, the sun was sneaking up on the sky.

“We didn't make it,” Dizzy said. “I told you I ain't no good.”

“You did just fine, man.”

He cradled Michelle under his arm, brushing the metal tenderly. “This dent won't ever come out neither.”

“Maybe you should play piano next time.”

He laughed, and the rich, sober sound was as good as a tune.

“Come on,” I said. “Let's go find ourselves a gig.”

The sun rose on a new day, just like any other. It was done. Not well, but close enough.

Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

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


Love Songs
819 words

The city lay before them. Strange how a single star can steal the eye, and change the shape of the night. It was always beautiful out on the Lover’s Cliff, but the nightly gleam of the city made the sight all that more special.

Jeremy stared into the distance while he tuned his violin. He only played silent, short notes. Their couple could have been nearby and he didn’t want to ruin the surprise. Neither did Sam, who had already prepared her cello on the car ride. She watched him from the passenger seat with brown eyes, chewing on her fingernails.

“How much longer are we going to wait?” she said.

“A few minutes. We’re supposed to appear at three in the morning,” Jeremy said.

“This is so romantic. I hope we don’t screw up.”

“You always say that and we never do.”

“I’m just saying. We’re helping people fall in love. If we ruin this…”

“We won’t screw up. Hush now.”

Jeremy stopped fiddling around with the tuning pegs. He played each string again a single time and nodded.

“I wish Richard would do this for me,” Sam said.

“He’d probably hire me.”

She chuckled.

Jeremy looked at his clock. “Let’s go,” he said.

They were careful not to mess up their suits as they snuck through the bushes. They had to leave a perfect impression. It was going to be a romantic dinner, it had to be clean and nice.

The candlelight threw shadows into the bushes before they had reached the clearing. A table was set up on the grass in the middle, plates with fancy food and bottles of champagne and romantic decor on it. A butler stood nearby. At the table sat a couple in expensive clothing, holding hands over their plates. She looked at him eyes ablaze as they talked. The man glanced at his golden watch.

“But there’s another thing,” he said, and waved towards the bushes. Jeremy and Sam stepped out and started playing.

The woman was gushing and awed and just couldn’t believe the craftiness of a man being able to browse a phone book for musicians. The man himself leaned back in his chair and laughed as he was complimented and tried to seem humble about it.

Jeremy went closer, played a little louder, with Sam right behind him. Strings buried into his fingers as he slid along the neck of his violin. His trembling bow edged across, crying a song of a love long hidden. A delicate melody, sad and wistful. Only he knew the text.

Eyes of a doe, you look at me so
from far, too far away
Wish for a day you were mine
Want to see heaven before I die

“May we always be happy together,” the man at the table said, and the couple touched glasses.

Sam smiled at Jeremy as they played and he couldn’t help but smile back. Focus on your music, he told himself and moved closer again to the couple, dancing around them, forcing himself to keep a cheerful and suggestive expression on his face.

All together they played for an hour, and all of it to their client’s lyrics. They performed an uplifting song about a girl who cared too much and always chewed on her fingernails, only today it was about some blonde’s choice of perfume. The butler went back and forth, replacing empty champagne bottles with fresh one from somewhere behind the bushes, and the talk got more bowdy. The romantic song Jeremy had composed about an angel dedicated to spreading love was finally titled ‘Your Nice rear end’.

When the song was done the couple got up, the man took his woman by the hand, and together they got climbed into a limousine that took them away. People in catering suits appeared from behind the bushes and started to clean up the dinner scene.

“Did you see those two? They were so in love,” Sam said.

“I told you we’d do well,” Jeremy said. He moved back towards their car and Sam followed him all the way to the edge of the cliff, where they sat down and looked out into the distant city lights together. The air was fresh and cool and felt nice on Jeremy's skin after he'd spent an hour dancing around a dinner table.

There was a beep on Sam’s phone as she put it on.

“I got a text from Richard,” she said.

“Mhh.”

“He wants to have dinner today. Can we head home?”

The road where the lovers had disappeared was empty and silent. Jeremy smiled sadly.

“Sure. Can’t have you miss your date.”

“No. You’re supposed to help people fall in love, remember?”

They got back in the car and drove into the light that emerged from behind the city. The sun rose on a new day, just like any other. It was done. Not well, but close enough.

Tyrannosaurus
Apr 12, 2006



Because Sometimes You’re Not Appreciative Because You Just Don’t Understand
(883 words)

-see archives-

Tyrannosaurus fucked around with this message at 03:01 on Dec 11, 2014

Club Sandwich
May 25, 2012


The Astral Plane
(1074 words)

The city lay before them. Strange how a single star can steal the eye, and change the shape of the night. Paul sat on the edge of his chair as the roof party continued unabated all around him, unable to stop staring at the single star overhead that had somehow managed to penetrate the orange haze of the urban night sky. The man next to him, who he seemed to remember was some distant college acquaintance, turned to start up a conversation, but hesitated when he saw how Paul had his head thrown back and was gazing skyward. Paul could feel the man’s eyes on him, and the idea of having to suffer through even a minute of conversation with this semi-stranger sent a shiver down his back. It was clear the man had just finished a conversation with someone else and was now desperately looking for anyone he vaguely recognized whom he could subject to 15 minutes of casual conversation. No doubt the only significant detail about Paul’s life the man remembered would be his degree in music, and that would invariably lead to a conversation about Paul’s career. And whenever Paul’s referred to his slight achievements as a “career,” it was all he could do to force the years of half-baked cantatas, unfinished jingles, and reams of wasted staff paper that littered his apartment like newspaper lining a bird cage. Would Paul admit to this man that it had been almost four months since he had touched his piano, or any instrument for that matter, or would he circumvent the truth in favor of the much used and suitably ambiguous “I’m doing fine.”

Paul, to his benefit, most likely could have weathered such an encounter, but could not draw his attention away from the star because right in that very moment, the star had begun to sing. The notes through Paul’s head were unlike anything he had ever heard. Paul also somehow knew it would slip out of his mind if he averted his gaze from the star. This sudden realization, that had materialized as quickly as the alien music, filled Paul with untold dread, and he imagined he would be willing to wring the man’s neck if it meant he could have so much as a kazoo to replicate the heavenly music. Paul suddenly became frantic. He could still hear the unearthly melody, but how long could it last? All of a sudden, Paul shot up out of his chair, pushed the semi-acquaintance aside, and heaved himself over the edge of the roof onto the fire escape There was a moment of shocked silence as the dinner party guests watched Paul disappear over the edge, but their sudden cries of surprise were barely audible to Paul, who had already climbed down four stories and was nearing the street. All the while, Paul kept his gaze locked on the single, shining star.

Paul hit the pavement and rushed into the street to hail a cab. He knew he would barely be able to afford a ride even a couple of blocks, but the subway was out of the question. Up ahead he saw a garbage truck stopped at a red light, and after a moment of hesitation he rushed down the street jumped onto the back of the truck as it lurched forward into the intersection. He gripped the handle on the back of the until his knuckles turned white, and he felt his panic momentarily subside as he could keep his eyes on the sky as the truck careened downtown.

The music continued on unabated as Paul sprinted the final block to his building. There was nothing particularly unfamiliar about the individual notes that comprised the song, but he could make little sense of their particular arrangement. All he could do was hum along with the tune that in his apartment he could find some way to make the alien melody unforgettable. He pulled out his keys and fumbled with the locks on the front door of his building. The astral music was quickly fading as he rushed past his overstuffed mailbox and up the stairs. He was in a near frenzy by the time he reached the fourth floor landing. The music was only a faint murmur in the back of his mind at this point, and he was close to tears as he struggled to whistle those parts of it he remembered. However, in his blind determination to reach his apartment door he had failed to notice the yellow “wet floor” sign the janitor had left out and as soon as his feet hit the hallway he was sent sailing through the air. The next split second was a painful blur as crashed full tilt into the radiator at the end of the hall. In his last moments of consciousness he managed to slowly turn over onto his back, and he was amazed to see that there, bright as ever and visible through the small window above the radiator, was his singing star. The melody roared back into his head, bringing a smile to his face as he slipped into unconsciousness.

When he awoke his hazy memories of the night before seemed like nothing less than a dream. However, as he hauled himself up from the floor and let himself into his apartment, he recalled the faintest hint of the strange melody. The brief snatch of the tune escaped his lips as an unconscious whistle, but as soon as he heard the notes he was positive they must be the last traces of the forgotten song. Without taking off his coat or even closing the door to his apartment, he sat down at an electric piano with a sheet of paper and quickly sketched out the few fragments of the melody that he remembered. All that morning he worked tirelessly trying to reconstruct even one more bar of the alien song, but try as he might, he could not dredge up another note.

Paul was tired and he had not yet bandaged up the gash on his head, but as he sat in his kitchen brewing a pot of coffee and listening to the thrum of the city slowly coming to life, he couldn’t help but feel grateful for the small scrap of the song he had managed to recall. The sun rose on a new day, just like any other. It was done. Not well, but close enough

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk







SurreptitiousMuffin posted:

Ugh fine ok, we're changing this up.

DEADLINE IS Midday Monday MYT. That is 4:00GMT. It is currently 15:10 Sunday MYT (07:10GMT). That is approximately 21 hours from now. HOWEVER

If you submit within the next 12 hours (7:00-19:00GMT Sunday), you will have an extra 250 words, up to 1277 words. If you have already submitted, I will break protocol and allow you one editing pass, though it must be done within the same 12 hours. I will check the timestamps. Also you're cool and we should hang out some time.
If you submit between 12-18 hours from now (19:00-01:00GMT Sunday), you will have the full wordcount of 1027 words.
If you submit between 18-21 hours from now (01:00-4:00GMT Monday), you will have 727 words.

I expect to be barraged with complaints for this too. Kindly shove them up your rear end.

lol whipped

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anime was right
Jun 27, 2008

death is certain
keep yr cool


Pest Control (1035 words).

The city lay before them. Strange how a single star can steal the eye, and change the shape of the night.

Lyn squinted, the soot of the windshield blurred orange sky. The sun lowered like Hamel’s brows.

“376 Winston Boulevard, right bro?” Lyn turned her head to the passenger seat.

Hamel was already out of the van. The door slammed.

Lyn stepped out, her eyes rose along brown bricks to the peak of the small building. A decapitated gargoyle perched high above them, another stared across the river. A breeze kissed Lyn’s hair, tips tickled her chin. She stepped around towards the back of the van, beyond the No Pests Till Brooklyn logo on the side; it was funny until they had to take jobs in Park Slope.

Hamel’s fingertips pressed firm against his forehead, eyes tight as he explained for the seventh time this week into the phone. “Yes, this will get rid of the rats. Yes, we’re serious, we don’t use poisons, they’ll be gone in thirty minutes or it’s free.”

Lyn took out the giant trap from the rear, a long box with weight towards the back. Her knees buckled to carry it. Dents decorated the back of the contraption from when she swung it against hallway corners and furniture. She carried it with her like a pendulum.

“You got my guitar?” Lyn looked up to Hamel, it was already over his shoulder.

***

The smell of salts from many sources made Lyn’s nostrils itch. A laptop on the table played reruns of a sitcom she’d never watched. The laugh track chimed in at inappropriate times.

“So the infestation is in the basement?” Hamel groaned.

“Yup, rats. There’s a family nestled somewhere around here. Not too many, but the store bought traps aren’t working. Called you because you’re…” Terry scratched his stubble with long, thin fingers.

“The cheapest, because our methods are unorthodox,” Hamel looked around. “The junk food, you should probably-”

“It’s my roommate’s. He’ll uh, get rid of it.”

Lyn peeked down the hall into the lone bedroom, a single bed.

“Alright Lyn, just drop it and we’ll be out in thirty,” Hamel handed her the guitar from its case.

Lyn leaned in to whisper to her brother. “Bet if we do this in under ten, you treat me to falafel when we’re done.”

Hamel glared back as if she were a client, then gave a thumbs up as he rolled his eyes.

Lyn placed the heavy trap on the floor. The front opened like a pet cage, the last quarter of the box walled off. She plugged the rear of the trap into the wall before Hamel handed her the guitar. Lyn plugged the guitar and the mic into the amp at the rear of the trap. A few diddles of the strings. She played a quick tune that echoed out the hollow front of the trap and through the floorboards. “We’re set.”

From the front of the cage, a sweet folk tune rolled through the floors. It rose high and low, loud enough to sound through the building entirely. Hamel tapped his mic thrice.

Oh rodent oh rat,
oh rancid young beast.
Come home come home,
we have such a feast.
A bounty so grand,
raise nose and follow.
Come sing with us,
let’s leave before morrow.


Terry’s eyes were tight, his finger pointed in fury towards Hamel. Hamel sighed, he lowered his mic and raised his hand.

“Just hold on a minute,” Hamel explained.

They played the song again.

Terry’s patience lasted up to the word home this time. He stepped toward Hamel and smacked the microphone downward, Hamel backed off in response.

Lyn’s notes went upward, the tempo increased. There was always a problem. Like tuning a guitar, one had to tune a song to a rodent’s tastes. Always adjustments to be made, they never came on the first calling. This is always when the client would get angry. Hamel’s face looked the same every time.

The humid scent led Lyn’s nose around, she looked down, a pack of Star Chips laid on the table, along with rolled up papers. She tapped Hamel’s shoulder and pointed to the mess. Hamel’s attention was short lived.

“Is this a prank? Is there a camera watching us? Are you trying to rip me off?” Terry kicked the trap.

Hamel stepped between Terry and the box with open arms. “Just give us the thirty we asked. We wouldn’t still be in damned business if this didn’t work. It’s weird, trust me, but it gets the job done. Rats aren’t as dumb as you think, they don’t just follow the same drat tune. Unlike you, they have taste.”

Terry opened his mouth as if to take a bite into a very tall sandwich, and then snapped it shut. His arms crossed as he crinkled a wrapper beneath his rear end on the couch.

Hamel started to sing again, Lyn kept playing the tune. She spotted a poster on the far off bedroom wall. Pink Floyd. Inspiration took over, her chords became more intense and erratic. She started to play progressive rock. Soon, the squeak and patter of rodents marching created a beat to the song.

Hamel sung the same lyrics as before, now spaced out, imitating the style of his sister. The two played a song that lured the pests towards the back of the trap. The rats chirped inside, and the concert ended when Hamel snapped the front of the trap shut.

Terry’s face was flushed red as his now twice blinked eyes.

Hamel had the crooked grin Lyn had seen so many times after a job well done.

***

The post bar rush was tight, but the falafel was delicious.

“I think the problem isn’t the method, it’s that you keep acting like an rear end. No one’s gonna spread the word if you’re not nice to clients,” Lyn chewed into a bite heavy on sauce.

“It’s just frustrating, you know? No one understands our art,” Hamel sighed.

“Yeah.” Lyn smiled. “I know.”

They were in and out before the sky was blue. The sun rose on a new day, just like any other. It was done. Not well, but close enough.

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