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  • Locked thread
Mar 21, 2013

All Gone Wrong
(Word Count: 1090)

Tonight was the night. A month of preparation – of sustained and constant vigilance, of long discussions on floor plans and proper approaches – would pay off, and the country's slide towards ruin would slow by another fraction.

John's blood thrummed with exhilaration, which he took unexpected relief in. He had found the old excitement dulled after the last operation, and worries about dragging Kurt, Ron, and Bert down, despite the reassurances they had provided afterwards:

Performing excisions on family members may seem disturbing, but the reasons for doing so haven't changed. We bring them back to their senses and remind them of the danger of the ideas they advocate.

Why are you so worried? He threw his lot in with those disgusting belly-crawling invaders, and now he's got a second chance.

Just give him another week to regain his speech and he'll be back to normal. The procedure's relatively benign, after all.

These sentiments had reminded him of the monologue he had given his bathroom mirror the day of the operation. Like the monologue, they did nothing to erase the two images stuck in his head – one of the terrified recognition on Dorian's face, and the other of his dull, slack, dead eyes even while John performed cerebral magic to excise the corruption the Snaci had left in his soul. But this familiar path through the cobbled city streets, with the soft sunset sunlight and the idle chatter of his comrades, seemed to finally chase away the gloom following him since Dorian's operation. Right now, it felt that the only step left between him and normalcy was his usual steak and potatoes at Earl's.

These comforting thoughts were interrupted by the sound of Kurt clearing his throat. The chatter from Ron and Bert died as they looked at him expectantly.

Kurt opened his mouth to speak, and found himself interrupted by a cough behind him. He spun around, clearly vexed, but stopped short when he found himself face-to-face with a woman, elegantly dressed in courier's colors.

"Message for John Hallin."

John noted with interest how quickly the irritation on Kurt's face was smoothed over and replaced with a polite interest. But all superficial thought died when he noticed what the courier was holding – a red envelope, with a very familiar wax seal. It was from Quatran.

It was a wonder that the paper didn't ignite from the force of all their stares.

Stiffly stepping forward and reaching out for the letter, John waved off the rest of the group.
"Go on ahead. I'll catch up later."

When they didn't move, it became John's turn to become irritated. He said pointedly, "Save some of the breadsticks for me."

Kurt took the hint, and after nudging Ron and Bert, got them to follow him on the path to Earl's.

John carefully opened the envelope, took the missive within out, and began to read. If anyone had bothered to study him during those moments, they would be forgiven for thinking he was made of wax.


The bright jingle of the bells from Earl's entrance caught Kurt's attention, and he looked over at the entrance. John had been delayed for quite a while – Ron and Bert had already received their order. Kurt looked over at him and waved, and John practically bounced over to them. But for all his apparent cheerfulness, John's smile didn't quite reach his eyes.

As he approached their table, John burst out, "You'll never believe what just happened!"

Ron dipped a biscuit in his soup as he asked, "What happened?"

"Dorian's going to join the Quatran!"

Bert put down his utensils, and began applauding, drawing irritated stares from the other patrons. Ron gaped at John, and Kurt felt like doing the same.

Dorian in the Quatran? The same Dorian who called the Quatran "a vicious, terrifying mob of people driven by fear of change and of their own impending irrelevance"? The Dorian who not only saw no problem with Snaci integration into society, but actively fought for favoritism of them by the government? The person who deliberately helped spread their corrupting music around the nation, the person who had forced the Quatran's hand?

The thought was simply too strange to contemplate. Kurt opened his mouth to say this, but he was interrupted by Ron, who had evidently gotten over his shock, and said, "Really? I've never heard of an excision this successful!"

John smiled and made some comment about cerebral magic being easier between siblings – but his eyes still refused to smile. They seemed frantic. Kurt increasingly felt that John was hiding something.

The rest of the meal passed by much like it usually did – the group idly discussed issues such as the successes other Quatran teams had in other excisions, and the probability that the disappearance last week was the subject of an XIO programming operation – procedures in which the target is forced into self-exile by making interaction with others unbearable. The control needed to rewire the mind in such a manner was unspeakably complex, but at the rate John was refining his craft, he probably would be able to perform such operations within the next year or so. But he remained uncharacteristically silent when the subject came up, when before he seemed so animated about the topic.


Kurt knocked on John's door.

According to their routine, they had split up after dinner for a brief preparatory period before meeting at the rendezvous point. And normally, Kurt would respect the privacy of this period, but something seemed wrong. Some instinct was nagging him, giving the conviction that John was hiding something deadly serious about that letter.

No answer. He knocked again. Again, no response.

After a brief inner struggle, Kurt placed his hand on John's door and muttered under his breath. The door opened slowly, revealing an silent, empty apartment, lit only by a gloworb in the corner. He strode through the doorway, and while scanning the room, his eyes fell upon the red envelope from earlier.

He opened it and read.

To John Hallin:

We have taken your request into consideration, but we cannot grant your request at the time. Dorian Hallin has proven himself uncontrollable and unrepentant, even after your excision, and as such, he will be subjected to the XIO procedure tonight when the moon reaches its zenith…

Kurt stared at the letter in shock, and then ran out of the apartment, intent on reaching the nearest Quatran operative. John was going to ruin everything.


Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

Psst. Hey, you. Yes, you: those eight people who haven't submitted yet. We are now in the eleventh hour. Get those stories in before the bell tolls for thee.

Feb 25, 2014


i have to drop out unfortunately. It just wasn't happening this week.

Shaky Premise
Nov 10, 2007
I will launch an attack with my Blitzkrieg Army of Bunnies.

(934 words)

Mr. McKinley sat at the edge of the bed, anxiously awaiting the orderly’s arrival. Jane, a new volunteer, is driving him to the park today. It was a warm August day, so he had dressed in a light pair of trousers, a short-sleeve woven shirt with his knitted vest and a matching flat cap.

Jane arrived with the orderly and a wheelchair. She helped Mr. McKinley onto the chair and they made their way out to the parking lot and into her car.

When they arrived, he directed her towards the center of the park. “Can we sit by the big oak? There,” he pointed with his cane towards a white oak tree over 200 feet tall, a behemoth in size and stature. Its leaves rustled loudly as the wind blew.

“Of course,” Jane said and pushed the chair towards a shady spot under the tree, locked the brakes, and sat on the nearby bench.

“Grandmother - that’s what we used to call her.” Mr. McKinley smiled.

“Who?” Jane asked.

He tapped the tree with the side of his cane, “This broad right here.”

They both looked up at the white oak that was towering above them.

“Maggie said this tree was lucky,” he said, interrupting the silence, “It’s where we met, it’s where we first kissed, it’s where I asked her to marry me and where we were wed.” Mr. McKinley smiled.

He continued, “She almost got cut down a few years ago. And now, after all these years, she’s still here.” He sighed, paused for a moment and looked around, “This place is so different now. There’s so much more traffic, more people.”

“Do you want to go somewhere else?” she asked.

He didn’t answer and instead went on, “A developer came and wanted to build here. Some of the townspeople and I, we got together and formed a committee to stop the development and preserve all of this.

“To be honest though, I really only did it for Maggie. She had just died and I didn’t really care about the rainforest or historical preservation or any of that stuff. This was Maggie’s tree so I had to save it for her.

“So I joined a group of ‘tree huggers,’ ” he raised his eyebrow at the label, “... but we were very committed! Petitions, phone calls, rallies - we did all of that stuff but at the end of it all, we couldn’t do anything to stop it.”

He stopped talking for awhile. Jane perked up in her seat, “So what happened?”

Mr. McKinley chuckled, “Everything we did was meaningless. The signatures didn’t do anything. We were harassing the developers and councilmen by showing up at their offices, calling their houses. We tried everything.

“We couldn’t avoid the inevitable. We had managed to stall the date, cause delays but after all that, the plans for the development was still going to go through - condos, a mall, some monstrous thing. So we all decided to do what all ‘tree huggers’ are expected to do. We chained ourselves to this tree here,” he laughed loudly, “It just seems so silly now, thinking about it! Half of the town must have been here and it was such a commotion.”

“Well, did it work?” Jane’s eyes widened a little.

Mr. McKinley continued, “We sat in silence around Grandmother, chained to each other, not saying a single word. The contractors with their bulldozers didn’t do anything but someone eventually called the police and before we knew it, there were officers with bolt cutters and handcuffs.

“It all happened very quickly. The chains were cut and we were all arrested one by one. It was just like in the movies - they handcuffed us, they read us our rights, and it all ended with a violent shove into the cabin of a police car.”

He was quiet again for a moment but then continued on, “As I sat in the police car, I heard the machines start up. ‘This was it,’ I thought, ‘I can’t save her. After everything I’ve done - she’s done. After everything.’ I saw a man with a chainsaw approach Grandmother. I couldn’t stop crying.”

Jane was tightly clutching Mr. McKinley’s hand. She was holding back her tears. He was quiet for awhile then said, “Jane, I’m getting tired. Can we go back to my room now?”

Jane was surprised but replied, “Yes, of course.” She unlocked the brakes on the chair and they made their way back. An orderly was already waiting for them in Mr. McKinley’s room when they arrived.

As she helped him sit back on the bed, he said to her, “I need to rest now,” and motioned her to leave.

She couldn’t resist asking him as she walked towards the door, “Mr. McKinley? What happened at the end? How was Grandmother saved?”

“There was...,” he paused, “...a bearded man.” His eyes squinted a little. “The chainsaw was already in the first inches of Grandmother’s bark when this mountaineer appeared. I couldn’t see him very well but it looked like he had reached out and grabbed the whirring blades with his bare hands!”

His voice started getting louder, “I heard the chainsaw stop suddenly! The man holding the chainsaw looked frightened and started backing away from the tree. As the police car drove away, I heard the rest of the machines stop.”

He let out a hearty laugh then finished, “I don’t know what else happened but the developers eventually cancelled the project.”

Mr. McKinley bid Jane good night and the orderly closed the door behind her.

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

Let the shame curtains close upon me. Next entry is a :toxx:.

Grizzled Patriarch
Mar 27, 2014

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

edit: snip

Grizzled Patriarch fucked around with this message at 01:51 on Dec 4, 2014

Aug 2, 2002

My First Break
1091 words

crabrock fucked around with this message at 06:39 on Oct 28, 2014

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007




I'd like to preface my story by saying ahflurbahdkhshfhurhertugha.

The Bridge and the Thingness

The derelict Bridge to Nowhere had to go.

The night before its demolition, two of the Bridge’s most faithful patrons crept past chainlink rent-a-fences, past the caution tape, past the coldly sleeping backhoes and dump trucks, and up onto the great concrete hump.

October wind tore at the girls’ hair.

“Any last words?” Maddy said.

“I just keep thinking,” said Corina, “that something will happen to stop all this.”

“Plead with the lake monster to rise up and eat the construction guys tomorrow.”

Corina squatted down, put her head on her knees. “I don't wanna think about the lake monster,” she groaned.

Like all lifelong best friends, Corina and Maddy had a secret, shared mythos surrounding their favorite haunts. The most salient of those pertained to the Bridge. The Bridge itself jutted out of a swampy forest beside a lake, a half-finished monument of graffitied concrete that squatted above the mud and water on thick cement pillars.

Among the things that scampered beneath it were junkies, secretive lovers--Corina had brought her fair share of boys to the Bridge--adventurous buskers, raccoons, and at least one alleged lake monster.

On top of the Bridge, where the wind danced and the crows cawed, spray paint colored the concrete like fallen confetti. FUNK, proclaimed one stretch of the Bridge. I love you, Sarah, declared another.

Corina rested for a long time, her forehead on her knees.

Even when she wasn’t looking at the Bridge, she could feel the capital ‘T’ Thing-ness of it, the weight of the memories of every person who had ever come to the bridge and loved it, or taken shelter beneath it, or made love on top of it. Like if she could just cut the air with a knife, she could see those memories, and maybe take some small fragment of them to keep for herself.

Midnight came and went. The lake monster did not rise out of the water to defend its temple. The memories of long-gone junkies and transients did not rain righteously down from the stars.

“What’re we waiting for, exactly?” Maddy said. She’d taken a seat with her back against the Bridge’s low concrete wall. “Are you expecting Mr. Deus ex Machina to beam down from his spaceship and save the day?”

“No, it’s just,” Corina said. She didn’t know what it was ‘just’. “Something. There’s too much something here for it to just get torn down, you know? It’s a useless old bridge, but it’s also more than that.”

“That’s how everyone feels when stuff changes in their hometown,” said Maddy. She nudged an old beer bottle around with her foot. “But then life goes on. New memories happen.”

“But I like these memories,” Corina said.

“Don’t whine,” Maddy said. She got to her feet, looked down at her friend, and sighed. “You can sit up here all night, but it won’t stop tomorrow from coming. You won’t even think about the Bridge after it’s gone. You’re just upset someone’s taking it away, is all.”

The wind was cold and clouds were sweeping in to cover the stars like a funeral shroud. Reluctantly, resentfully, Corina rose and followed Maddy down from the Bridge.


Corina shivered in the early morning chill, pressed against the chain link fence surrounding the demolition site. The clouds were low and heavy and grey. Construction workers shouted back and forth, getting equipment into place. A handful of spectators milled around, smoking cigarettes and talking quietly to each other.

Something. Something, her heartbeat said to her.

“Figured you’d be here.”

Corina jumped at the sound of Maddy’s voice behind her.

“It’s gonna take ‘em days, you know. They’re gonna disassemble the Bridge piece by piece, so that the rubble won’t pollute the lake,” Maddy said when Corina was silent.

Corina could barely hear Maddy for the swelling, pushing feeling in her own chest. Her fingers wrapped around the chain link until the knuckles blanched white. Something...something...was pushing up and out of her, like a half-remembered song crescendoing with the beat of her heart. The song of an old bridge and the people who loved it.

On the other side of the demolition site, the water beneath the Bridge rippled.

It’s a funny thing, the moment when calamity first strikes.

When a skull-like head the size of a car burst of out the water like a surfacing submarine, the construction workers were busy starting up their equipment, measuring distances and gauging where debris would fall. When the shoulders emerged, pale and white and dripping and as broad as a house, the other spectators pointed and shouted, which the demolitionists paid no mind to--the news said there might be protesters trying to block the demolition, after all.

It wasn’t until the lake monster stood at its full height, some fifty feet tall, that work halted and the workers started to run.

Corina’s heartbeat was a long, fluttering drone in her chest.

The lake monster was beautiful and malformed, lumpen and intricate. Its flesh was the flesh of a thousand people, the junkies and transients and buskers and drunken merry-makers. Corina squinted across the distance between herself and the monster, found the ghost of her own face in a hundred different places on the monster’s skin, one for each memory she’d made with the Bridge.

The beast seemed to peer down at the scattering demolitionists with mild curiosity. Then it turned and lowered itself down onto the Bridge to Nowhere, like a lover mounting their bedmate. It wrapped its ghostly white body around the Bridge, the buskers in its arms singing as they embraced the concrete.

Maddy was calling to Corina from some distance away, begging her to run to safety with everyone else. Corina’s fingers were still knotted tightly in the chain link fence as she watched the monster curl protectively around that which spawned it.

Sirens sounded in the distance. A rapidly approaching helicopter chopped up the air. The lake monster, now firmly entangled with the Bridge to Nowhere, went completely still, like a massive, fleshy sculpture.

Corina closed her eyes, rested her head against the fence. Her heartbeat slowed to normal. When she looked up again, the creature had hardened around the Bridge, its skin gone dull and stony.

“Now there’s a capital ‘T’ Thing if I ever saw one,” she murmured when they came to gently pry her away from the fence and her monster.

Apr 25, 2011

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


No One Expects Death until the Eleventh Hour
1091 Words

She realized she dug too deep when she got blood in her eye. She realized that the ten other scars lining her arm did not gush like the eleventh. She, president of the Chess Club; highest gpa in class; off her depression medication; Matilda Shapiro, realized then, and only then, that she wanted to live.

The razor clattered to the tile floor. She clutched her wrist and jumped from the tub. Skidding, barefoot, she took the washcloth from the banister and pressed down. She spun the facet and poured water on the wound. There was so much blood.

"Nononono," she prayed. She threw the cabinet open. Lightheadedness clouded her brain and Matilda knew she had to hurry. The blood pattered against the counter in globs as she wrenched the cap open. She turned the bottle of alcohol over and mindlessly poured it over her wound. She didn’t think. That’s what saved her.

Inflamed tissue kicked. Pain seized her entire body. Her knees gave out. She slipped. Her head her head on the counter.

Then a voice from above her said “Drat.

Matilda opened her eyes. She sat up suddenly, holding her head as the world teetered around her. “What?”

I Am Sorry. I Was Speaking To Myself. Do Not Mind Me.

Matilda blinked. At first, confusion, then fear. She could not comprehend the words bubbling to the rim of her throat. So she responded with the only word on the tip of her tongue, “W-What?”

Are You Listening To Me, Child?

Matilda opened her mouth, stumbled, then closed it. She rose to her feet, the white gown catching on the knob to one of the bathroom cabinets. That, the gown, in itself, both quelled and exacerbated the anxiety. She did not know when she put on this dress; she could see her body on the floor, bath water pooling on the tiled floor.

What.” Not a question.

I Was Merely Expressing My Irritation. My Apologies.

“No, I get that. I just don’t understand.”

It Is A Shock, Yes. For The Both Of Us.

Matilda saw the spot where her foot sprained when she slipped in bathwater. She also saw the speckle of blood where her head hit the counter. The pain in her head was gone.

“This wasn’t supposed to happen,” said Matilda.

My Thoughts Exactly,” said the man.

“gently caress me… What are the kids at school going to think?”

You Are In The Very Niche Of Death, Child. Vanity Should Be The Least Of Your Problems.

“I guess,” Matilda frowned, “when you put it like that. So you’re here to take me away, right?”


Matilda frowned even harder. “C’mon. I know how this works. ‘Death has come to harvest another soul.’ That’s why you’re here, aren’t you?”

I Am Not Death.

"Then who the hell are you?"

I Am Your Death”, said Death.

Semantics. Funny. Matilda smirked, if not a bit grimly. She glanced at her corpse again."This wasn't supposed to happen.”

You Have Said This Already.

"I've done this thing about a dozen times. I’m just hosed up. I get really angry sometimes, and this helps. I was always careful. I don’t understand what," Matilda paused, “I don’t know why I’m telling you this. I mean, it’s not like it’ll change anything.”

Only Results Matter. Context Is Meaningless.

Matilda turned towards the source of the voice. The figure standing before her was abhorrent but familiar. She knew who it was, but at the same he looked nothing like she imagined.. Matilda squinted. "You said you were irritated. What did you mean by that?"

"You Have Defied Fate.

"I don't get it. Was I supposed to, like, not cut myself?"


“...Was I supposed to die?”


Skeletal fingers rose from black, holding an hourglass. The roof of the bottom bulb was barely covered in sand. It took Matilda only a second to notice it. Sitting across the roof of the top bulb, flat, more sand. She could see each particle blinking in and out of existence.

Your Last Minute Actions, However, Have Placed You In Limbo. That Is The Source Of My Irritation.

"I'm sorry," said Matilda.

"It Is Not Your Fault. Not Truly. But Your Actions Have Given You A Chance At Life. So The Problem Becomes... What To Do With You?

A chill ran up her spine. The sight of the hourglass made her want to throw up, but she had no stomach let alone food to upchuck, so she gagged on air instead. But the concept of breathing was slowly leaving her, too. So she simply stood.

I Cannot Simply Take You To The Other World. So I Will Offer You The Deal I Give To Wise Men Who Have Lived Full Lives. A Deal That Determines Their Fate.

“And what’s that?”

Would You Like To Play A Game Of Chess?

“I don’t know how to play chess,” Matilda lied.



Hm. I Suppose It Was A Shot In A Dark. It Can Be Any Game, In Theory.

Matilda pressed her forefinger to her chin, biting her nail. “Any game?”

Yes. Chose Quickly. Time Is Of The Essence.

The high school girl breathed in deep. Hope filled her lungs, then, and she sighed. “Any game?”


“Are you sure?”

Yes Of Course. I Have Said As Much. Have You Decided?

Matilda cracked a smirk. “Yep.”


As she reached for the dial, Matilda thought about the taste of ice cream. She thought about the woods outside of her house, and about the Red Cardinal that lived in the tallest oak tree. She thought about the cute boy in her class, the one she gave her homework to as a veiled excuse to talk to him. She grinned when the spinner stopped.

“Right Hand Red!”

Death grunted. He shifted his weight from one foot to the next, tailbone bending with a sickening crack. He placed his bony hand on the furthest red spot. Then, flutter in his coat. Death’s Coccyx hit the floor.


The sands in the hourglass shifted. Matilda laughed through her tears. There are many mysteries surrounding Death, but the one Matilda figured out was obvious. Skeletons are simply not made to play Twister.

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

The bell has rung; the minute hand has passed twelve. :siren: Submissions for Week CXV: The Eleventh Hour are now CLOSED! :siren:

Broenheim, sebmojo, and SurreptitiousMuffin, you have disappointed us. You are the pizza delivered after thirty minutes have passed. You are the sad broccoli on the edge of our plate. May thoughts of the honors that might have been yours continue to haunt you long past the stroke of midnight.

Everyone else: you submitted on time. Congratulations! We hope to know by tomorrow night who has earned glory and who only shame.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


500 words.

N. Senada
May 17, 2011

"Oh, you're tapped out? Tap three, play Darksteel Plate. Tap two, equip it to Platinum Angel."

"Is that it?"

"No. I play Trickster God's Heist and give it to you in exchange for that token."

"You're Expected Wait Time is 1 Glorious Round of Chariot Bloodsport"

The competition between Uber and Lyft reached unprecedented heights during the great Oil Wars of 2045. Forced to rely on the more fuel efficient ethanol engines, drivers made use of modified motorcycle chariots. And, as the new rules dictated by the free market (as revealed by Liberalism-Bot), each driver was forced to do badass races to the death to attain a client.
While spectators truly enjoyed the sport, patrons were less than thrilled by the long wait times and copious amounts of blood which stained the chariot seats.

“Horatio, son of Thompson, do you believe there could be another way?”
“You mean that we could perhaps have three people racing?”
“No, no Horatio, son of Thompson. I mean, simply let whoever arrives first take the client.”
“You speak of heresies Humphrey, first son of Taggart. You’d be wise not to share those thoughts again.”

Horatio, son of Thompson, put on his chromium helmet. He grabbed the pleather reins to his mighty metal stallions and wondered again what life was like in the before-times, in the long-long-ago. And then he was shoved into a wall at 90 miles an hour as a crowd of thousands cheered.

Wyatt Apple, consummate businessman and house minority leader, waited impatiently in the center of the ring, briefcase in tow. He tapped his foot and worried that the gods would be upset if he did not submit his offering in a timely fashion.

The gods looked down from high and wondered how they had hosed up so bad.

N. Senada
May 17, 2011

"Oh, you're tapped out? Tap three, play Darksteel Plate. Tap two, equip it to Platinum Angel."

"Is that it?"

"No. I play Trickster God's Heist and give it to you in exchange for that token."

Forgot to include wordcount


Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

:siren:Thunderdome Week CXV Results: The Eleventh Hour :siren:

Nearly the only things the judges could agree on this week were one, that most of the stories this week were bad; two, that good stories have endings; and three, that these points were not unrelated. I don't know what it was about the prompt that brought so much meh-to-bleh to the yard, but I ought to apologize to docbeard and Ironic Twist. I didn't know what I was getting you into when I asked you to judge, guys. I didn't knoooooow.

THE WINNER is one of the few who turned in a story without a major flaw: Sitting Here. I'll remember the image of busker-memories singing to the Bridge to Nowhere for a long time. All of us found your work evocative, your execution splendid. That I so loved the premise of memories sleeping within derelict places didn't hurt you a whit, but you found some measure of favor from all of the judge team.

HONORABLE MENTIONS go to two others whose names were praised in our lengthy debates. Morning Bell, two of us felt let down by your ending, but the strong characterization in your entry and the tension you captured impressed all around. You should avoid language errors in your future titles, however. Entenzahn, we just plain liked yours. While your prose was less skillful than Sitting Here's, your descriptions less strong than Morning Bell's, you gave us a solid plot that we enjoyed. It had a conclusion, too! Glory Hallelujah!

In a week like this, LOSERS are like potato chips. You can't have just one. LOU BEGAS MUSTACHE, come on down and collect your crown of crap. For a prompt that specifically called for full stories, you submitted a non-story that had no plot and no personality to speak of in its main character. You failed to set up the toilet dimension or make it relevant to the 'important event,' which seemed tangential at best. Take consolation in knowing there was a dissenting vote, but the judges all agreed that this was a loss-grade piece--the only question was whether something else was worse.

Which brings us to Superb Owls. Mr. Owls, I hope you stay in the Thunderdome and battle on, but may you say the word 'cake' five times in five sentences nevermore. Not that this was your mortal sin, you understand. I liked the visual of random Krugerrands in cake; I think it could be the centerpiece of a good story, but this entry, ending as it did--ending indeed, but concluding nothing--was not a good story in the least.

DISHONORABLE MENTIONS: Jitzu_the_Monk, you wrote something in which a necrophiliac caught lycanthropy as an STD from a corpse. Think about that for a minute. For myself, I would prefer never to think about it again. What saved you was that all three judges felt you had the core of a good story marred by pointless shock value and shot dead by what might have been the week's dumbest ending, and that is saying something.

kurona_bright, was this entry by chance an excerpt from a novel you're writing? It read just that way and not like a standalone story at all. I can't care about all the backstory on John and Dorian when I didn't get to see what happened when John went off to the rescue.

Shaky Premise, you too are welcome to the arena. Please keep fighting. Please reconsider telling stories via expository dialogue many years after the fact rather than as they happen, when there might have been tension and excitement. Please don't have more mountain men show up at the end to save the day in ambiguous ways, either. More things can happen in the eleventh hour than dei ex machina.

Now, when there are two losers, there must be a battle to determine which shall wear the losertar. LOU BEGAS MUSTACHE and Superb Owls, your challenge is as follows: Write a story in which your protagonist kills someone else, but that death cannot be the end of the tale. Caveat: do have an ending of some kind. You have 900 words and a deadline of Friday, October 24, 11:59pm USA EST. If either of you defaults, the other gets an easy out, but what fun would that be?

Crits may take a while, but they're underway. Your turn to take the bench, Sitting Here! Good luck!

anime was right
Jun 27, 2008

death is certain
keep yr cool

gently caress this loserfight bs i accept my loss

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007




:siren: Thunderdome Week CXVI: Today in Technicolor :siren:

Do you ever stop and think about how much poo poo is simultaneously happening around the world at any given moment? Well, it turns out people are out there taking pictures of it!

This week you are going to go to:


(or another "in pictures" site, just link to it)

and choose a picture from October of this year. You are going to write about that picture (make sure to include it with your submission). You could write from the perspective from someone or something in the picture. You could write about the events leading up to the picture. Vingettes are ok this week. What I really want is texture. I want your stories to ooze color, secrete smells, and chafe me with sensation.

Description is key this week. Like I said, I'll accept vignettes--if the writing is nice enough. But also don't crawl too far up your own rear end or anything.

Any genre is fine, but I'm going to frown a lot if I see any generic swords and sorcery poo poo.

Wordcount: 900

Signups end: 11:59 PM PST on Friday, October 24
Submissions Close: 11:59 PM PST on Sunday, October 26

Sitting Here
Echo Cian

Humans on Spaceship Earth:
Ironic Twist
Schneider Heim
N. Senada
Your Sledgehammer
Grizzled Patriarch
Baby Babbeh
Benny the Snake
Pete Zah

Sitting Here fucked around with this message at 07:07 on Oct 25, 2014

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


Oct 30, 2003


Dec 17, 2003

Stand down, men! It's only smooching!


Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007




Oh and make sure to link the picture along with your submission.

anime was right
Jun 27, 2008

death is certain
keep yr cool


ex post facho
Oct 25, 2007

Not mentioned?

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007




It means you fell into the middle of the pile, compared to the other entries. Which isn't a bad thing! You'll get feedback in the crits.

Lily Catts
Oct 17, 2012

Show me the way to you
(Heavy Metal)

I'm in.

Mar 25, 2007

I would like to throw my hat into the ring, please.

N. Senada
May 17, 2011

"Oh, you're tapped out? Tap three, play Darksteel Plate. Tap two, equip it to Platinum Angel."

"Is that it?"

"No. I play Trickster God's Heist and give it to you in exchange for that token."


Feb 17, 2007

The best angel of all.


Your Sledgehammer
May 10, 2010

Don`t fall asleep, you gotta write for THUNDERDOME

In with a :toxx:

Grizzled Patriarch
Mar 27, 2014

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


Jan 27, 2006


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.

OH MY GOD I'M SO loving IN!!!

May 5, 2014

by FactsAreUseless

I'm in.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh

WEEK 115 CRITS PART 1 OF 2: Superb Owls, LOU BEGAS MUSTACHE, Jitzu_the_Monk, Shaky Premise, a shameful boehner, Your Sledgehammer, N. Senada, Brother_Walken, Entenzahn, Morning Bell

This week was rough, y'all. Let's get down to it.

Superb Owls--Gold In Every Slice

All three of the judges, as we were discussing your piece, saw a definite earnestness in your writing. I can see that you really wanted to write a good story, and I know that you want to become a better writer. Pay attention to this crit and others, read more stories, submit more stories, and gradually you’ll improve.

The story itself is not great. It’s built around this intriguing image—the cake full of Krugerrands—but it didn’t seem like you knew what to do with it. Keep asking yourself questions that you know the reader is going to ask: why didn’t they notice the Krugerrands during baking? Where did they come from? Why tonight, of all nights? Why is Robert a good friend and terrifying at the same time? Would he cut them a break? Then let the answers to those questions improve your story.

You have plenty of grammar errors as well, which could also be remedied by more reading. See how others construct plots, sentences, and dialogue, and it’ll be easier to implement it in your own writing.

The main negative that stuck with us was the lack of an ending. If you were able to give us a definitive conclusion as to why the Krugerrands appeared, you might have had a shot at avoiding the loss. Make sure there’s a basic structure to your story—that there’s a reason for what’s being set up at the beginning. Also make sure you can get rid of everything that doesn’t move the story forward—like a lot of the introduction. Maybe the story starts with Kahn choking on the Krugerrand.

If there’s another positive you can take away from this, it’s that the stakes were clearly defined and I knew what was happening in the story and why it was happening, which is something you wouldn’t be able to say about some of this week’s entries. You have clarity, but not a lot of polish or subtlety. Keep the clarity, but find a way to make your writing flow more smoothly and organically in your next entry. And eventually try to show through detail rather than explain through narration.

LOU BEGAS MUSTACHE--Quite Frankly? I'm Flushed.

I didn’t hate your story as much as the other two judges, but I agreed with their main sticking points about it. The main problem all three of us had with the story is that there was no reason or background for anything that was happening. I get the feeling you just wanted the reader to be enthused by the words “toilet dimension” and just roll with it, but when the “toilet dimension” is the linchpin of your story, the reader wants something to go with it. You had the opportunity to give us toilet lore, and you didn’t.

As for the main character, he’s basically the White Rabbit of the story when he should be the Alice—all we know is that he’s late for something and frantically trying to be on time. We know almost nothing about his character or his motivations.

The execution is there on a sentence-level, but even if a toilet is brilliantly crafted, it’s still a toilet. Unless you’re Marcel Duchamp, it’s not going in a museum.

Jitzu_The_Monk--Calvin's Business

I said to Kaishai that I must be used to horrible genre-fiction tropes by now, because this story didn’t creep me out as much until someone else pointed out the significance of the last scene. You know, the werewolf-necrophilia-STD-significance. Yyyyyeah.

Anyway, we all did agree that if you stripped away a lot of the shock value (and with that first line, I’m sure shock value was somewhere in your intent) this story could have been something. As it was, there was no reason for the bookends of bad taste. It felt like you started out wanting to write a good story, but ran out of words and/or time, and ended up trying to make a memorable story. And yes, you will very possibly be remembered for this.

Not to say that you couldn’t have constructed the main character really well if you had committed to his loathsomeness. That’s what this story is—it’s a giant half-step. It’s a half-done murder-mystery, half-done horror story, and half-done seedy fantasy. If you had seen at least one of those through to its completion, the story would’ve been much better off. Glad to see you’re keeping at it though.

Shaky Premise—Grandmother

Kaishai said in IRC that you told a potentially interesting story in the worst possible way, and I think that sums most of it up. Maybe you could make the frame story work if it were a longer piece, but you had 1100 words to work with—you should have thought about how to get to the heart of the story as soon as you possibly could’ve.

The concept of the story is interesting, if a bit of a retread. If the characters had more to them, we’d be interested in what they were saying no matter what it was. But this story should be an important reminder to you that most plots come out of character: How the old man and the nurse were as people informed what they said and did, and vice versa. I couldn’t tell what they were like, therefore I didn’t care what they had to say. Make your characters memorable or interesting in some way. Base them off of people or characters that you find interesting.

The actual tree story was the strongest part of the narrative, but that’s not saying much at all. The ending was the worst—a mysterious mountain man just shows up, grabs the chainsaw with his bare hands. This makes everyone leave, for some reason. We never know who the man is, or why he showed up, or why all the bad men went away. Everyone gets a happy ending, except for the person who had to read your story. THINK ABOUT THESE THINGS. If you’re aware of them, FIX THEM.

My suggestion to you is to follow a basic plot structure for your next story (introduction/rising action/climax/falling action/denouement) and to get inside your characters’ heads a bit more. And as always, keep reading everything you can.

A shameful Boehner—Not This Time

This wasn’t as offensive as many of the other stories this week, but it definitely felt like the safest approach this week by far.

I like how you set up the conceit of the story early on, but it leads to your character being fairly one-dimensional. He essentially spends most of the story being passive, and we know that the story will end with him either being late or not late. There’s not a lot of tension or unpredictability left over.

On a sentence-level, there’s not that much to complain about, but the vagueness of most of your character’s instances of lateness pushed the story into sappy kitsch territory. Look at Sitting Here’s story from Phobia Week: . She also has a main character who’s affected throughout his life by a recurring pattern of personal mistakes, but hers works better because we see more of her MC as a human being.

The fact that you had a fairly simplistic story, and that you submitted early while using only half your word count, tells me that you could have added a lot more to this piece but you didn’t want to. Please submit again, but take more time and pay more attention to how your story comes across.

Your Sledgehammer—Catch You On The Flipside

This was a potentially interesting story, shot in the foot by a lack of character and a plot that went virtually nowhere.

The dialogue is nice, as are some of the physical descriptions, but I couldn’t get into caring about the main characters at all, or even differentiating between the two. You set up a lot of potential ways for your story to go at the beginning, and then you toss them all over your shoulder and use the oldest time-travel trickeration ending in the book: Future Inventor Destroys Time Machine He Invented In The Past. Roll credits.

Also, this sentence:

Some company from the future managed to reverse-engineer this thing and is trying to literally destroy the competition, Ben thought to himself as he stood up and threw a tackle at the intruder.

loving look at that sentence, think about it in the context of the story, think about all the places that sentence doesn’t go, and don’t look away.

I really wanted to give out a fourth DM for this story for the way it ended alone, but the other judges were against it. So you’re in luck. Focus on character next time.

N. Senada—Second Chances

Hooray for middle-of-the-road stories.

In all seriousness, there were things about this story that I liked. It was way too dialogue-heavy, but some of the conversation, as well as the overall premise, reminded me a bit of Raymond Carver in its matter-of-factness and its ability to lend drama to short exchanges.

But I feel like a lot of the dialogue spells out things for us that we don’t need to see. The physical description takes a backseat to the dialogue when they should both be working just as hard to convey character. In addition, this was kind of a simple plot—I wanted to see what would happen after Tommy was rejected more than the exchange you gave us.

Some of the dialogue is realistic, some of it isn’t. Try to think more about how people talk to each other, while at the same time keeping things tight for dramatic purposes. I do think you have sort of a skill for portraying real-life situations. Try enhancing it.

Brother_Walken—The Clocks

I really didn’t like this story when I first read it, but on a second read, there were things about it that stuck out in a good way.

I like that you’re not afraid to play around with language, but at the same time you know how to describe things relatively clearly. I was able to get inside the main character’s mental state fairly easily. I can believe that he’s scared of the ticking clocks, but that fear is never explained or fulfilled. There’s some technical skill here, but it’s not going anywhere.

Part of it is because we don’t know who this guy is or why this fear defines his life in such a way. It’s just there. It’s like a disembodied Tell-Tale Heart where the character never tries to escape his fate. He seems like he’s full of as much clockwork as the actual clocks.
Anyway, if you’re able to fill in a lot of the plot holes in a story before you submit it, you’ll have a better chance with your next effort. This is a decent showing from a newbie, nonetheless.


Kaishai touched upon this already, but you were able to fit the most plot into your story in a plausible way. And a well-executed plot was something that was few and far-between this week.

Once you get past that, there’s nothing terribly noteworthy about the story—not the characters, setting or dialogue. I said in my notes that I didn’t like the characters but I liked the relationships they had with each other. That was what made me care and kept me reading.

In a stronger week this wouldn’t have received an HM, but you earned it this week, and with a little more color and depth added to everything you crammed into 1100 words, I could see this blossoming into something great.

Also, it’s “reins”, not “reigns”.

Morning Bell—Julie, Mon Cheri

Out of everything I read this week, I think this story did the most with the prompt, because it made me feel more tension than anything else. You set the stakes up nicely with the first third of the story and keep the tension rolling for most of the narrative.

This story gave me the best sense of character as well—normally third-person present tense isn’t the best idea, but you make it work here, mainly because you use key details to say a lot about the main character in a small space.

The story’s a bit predictable and tacked-on as to how it ends, and I definitely think the whole discovery scene could have been less of a sitcom cliché. But otherwise, this was great and you should be proud of it. Besides the ending, what kept it from the win was the depth in the supporting characters—they seemed a bit too much like Julie’s props. Nonetheless, nice job.

More to come later.

Ironic Twist fucked around with this message at 22:52 on Oct 21, 2014

ex post facho
Oct 25, 2007

Thank you very much for the critique! I definitely was going for a simple story and agree that I could have fleshed it out more. Looking forward to participating more in the future. :)

Baby Babbeh
Aug 2, 2005

It's hard to soar with the eagles when you work with Turkeys!!


angel opportunity
Sep 7, 2004

Total Eclipse of the Heart

That is the most effort judging I've ever seen

Apr 12, 2006

Tyrannosaurus Free Crits

Phobia - No One Expects Death until the Eleventh Hour
This was funny and well-written. If I was a judge (and I’m not) I would tentatively place this in my Winner/HM category. Of course, I’d have to read all the other stories and compare everything and yadda yadda and none of this matters because I’m not tossing official judgement this week but the point is that I liked your story. I also tend to enjoy your writing in general (I find a lot stylistic familiarity) so you know. Take it as you will.

A couple nitpicky notes:

“It Is Not Your Fault. Not Truly. But Your Actions Have Given You A Chance At Life. So The Problem Becomes... What To Do With You?

A chill ran up her spine. The sight of the hourglass made her want to throw up, but she had no stomach let alone food to upchuck, so she gagged on air instead. But the concept of breathing was slowly leaving her, too. So she simply stood.

“I Cannot Simply Take You To The Other World. So I Will Offer You The Deal I Give To Wise Men Who Have Lived Full Lives. A Deal That Determines Their Fate.”

could probably be cut to

"It Is Not Your Fault. Not Truly. But Your Actions Have Given You A Chance At Life. So I Will Offer You The Deal I Give To Wise Men Who Have Lived Full Lives. A Deal That Determines Their Fate.”

Its a lot less wordy and the whole gagging bit doesn’t really fit with the flow of your piece. She seems hilariously put together (what with the grimly smirking and whatnot) and all of a sudden she’s sick to her stomach. The jump in emotional states is a little too extreme.

I don’t understand why she didn’t take him up on the chess offer. You’ve already told us she’s president of the chess club. You’ve also told us that she’s very intelligent. Maybe include a bit where she’s analysing her chances of success with the conclusion that Death probably has much more experience or something. As is, the chess thing feels like a Chekhovian gun you didn’t fire. You could surprise your reader by masking your real gun (her intelligence) with the chess by including just a sentence or two of her calculating her odds.


“As she reached for the dial, Matilda thought about the taste of ice cream. She thought about the woods outside of her house, and about the Red Cardinal that lived in the tallest oak tree. She thought about the cute boy in her class, the one she gave her homework to as a veiled excuse to talk to him. She grinned when the spinner stopped.”

None of this is important or significant and could be cut.

Sitting Here - The Bridge and the Thingness
My background is in performance so a majority of my “notes” for this story are little tiny things. Maybe meaningless corrections. Mostly notes on wording and phrasing that I feel like interrupt the flow of your story. I can list those if you like but I don’t want to come across like I’m writing your story for you.

I liked this, by the way. Really, really liked this. I could probably spend more time listing the things I liked than giving you proper crits but I don't think that helps anything other than ego

Crits: You have a very nice set up but its almost... too short? If that makes sense? Your ending is so outlandish and bizarre (though excellently and properly foreshadowed) that I think it needs to just pop up right there at the end. As is, you kind of meander through the rise of the monster which I feel like is a bit of a disservice for the tale. Last line is perfect. Perfectly surmises the piece. The monster is super sweet. Delightful imagery.

My major gripe here is the inclusion of all the junkie references. You’re already tiptoeing this line between dreamlike childish fairytales and cold hard adulthood (which I think is loving awesome btw, I totally feel you here) and the junkies make it too real for me. Too adult. It makes the bridge feel unsafe instead of a silly childhood stomping ground.

This is two stories in as many weeks where I feel like you have written something very strong. Win/HM pile.

crabrock - My First Break
Man, three for three on stories I’ve enjoyed reading so far.

Your very first sentence is a little wordy for my taste (heh). However, the rest of your opening paragraph is strong. Definitely makes me want to keep reading. Here’s the thing though, I’m not sure what you were trying to do here. What kind of story you were trying to tell. Or how it fits into the prompt? Is the eleventh hour bit the fact that he’s close to making partner?

Note: The excitement you build in your beginning gets muddied by the middle and the story your telling seems to have completely transformed by the end. Your robot craziness gets lost once you get to family drama.

Note: “Kids are stupid, not to mention a financial liability with a low probability of meaningful return. Jeff was always horrible with money though.” is a good line

Note: “The walls were crisp white, but rippled like a pond catching autumn leaves” is poetic. Human.

Note: Gears in the head is cool. However, I don’t understand why he’s still able to cry.

Grizzled Patriarch - Leading Out to Sea
Looks like you submitted like twenty minutes after I went to bed. Sorry, man. Raincheck for sure.

This is a story that gets better as it chugs along; which is good in that, by the end, I was enjoying reading it. But very very bad in that I wasn’t with you from the opening. It takes too long to get going. Your opening paragraph is wordy and difficult to decipher. For instance: Look at “When Farah’s mother saw him she clapped a hand over her mouth.” Is Mom clapping hand over Daughter’s mouth? Or over own mouth? I know by second read through that Mom is super stoked to see Dad but I don’t know poo poo the first time I’m reading this.

I don’t really “get” what’s going on. How normal it is in this world for people’s dads to be dead/water monster things? Is the daughter seeing Dad for how he really is and mom isn’t or does mom not care? Should I be feeling dread? Or is everything cool? I don’t know. And this weakens your story.

The fishy descriptions are pretty good.

I wonder how this story would have gone had you written it in first person.

Shaky Premise - Grandmother
Don’t open with a bunch of superfluous descriptions. It doesn’t matter how lovingly you crafted them, if they don’t move along the story then they are boring. If they are boring then you have a bad opening. You have a bad opening.

I guess, at its core, this could be an interesting idea but you don’t give me the fun bits until right at the very end. You should give me the fun bits at the beginning! And then keep giving me more! This isn’t wretchedly written but it plods along at this dull pace and I just don’t give a gently caress about anything that you are writing. I don’t care about the characters. I don’t care about their relationship. I don’t care about the tree. Why is the tree important? Because its big and old? Ok, neat. Works in real life. But this is flash fiction. You gotta make me give a gently caress.

Also, your tenses are off putting. After you’re done writing a draft, start over from the begining and make sure you style is congruous.

kurona_bright - All Gone Wrong
I have no idea what I just read. You have a million characters with little to distinguish them and nothing to make me care about a single one. This is weighed to hell with pointless descriptions and useless jargon. I want you to, if you can, divorce yourself from the inherent love one has for their work and then, “What is important in this story? What is the fundamental idea I am writing about?” Forget setting. Forget character. What is the idea you are going for? It seems to be the muddled something about relationships. I don’t really know. Do you? Break it down to its most basic premise and start a new story from there. Dress it up in your choice of fashion but you need to have a solid base or the whole things is unwieldy.

Here’s where I would have started this story:

“Dorian's going to join the Quatran!"

Ron gaped at John, and Kurt felt like doing the same.

Dorian in the Quatran? The same Dorian who called the Quatran "a vicious, terrifying mob of people driven by fear of change and of their own impending irrelevance"? The Dorian who not only saw no problem with Snaci integration into society, but actively fought for favoritism of them by the government? The person who deliberately helped spread their corrupting music around the nation, the person who had forced the Quatran's hand?

The thought was simply too strange to contemplate. Kurt opened his mouth to say this, but he was interrupted by Ron, who had evidently gotten over his shock, and said, "Really? I've never heard of an excision this successful!"

Boom. Right of the bat you introduce conflicted emotions and a manage to drop a whole bunch of backstory at the same time. You intrigue the reader this way. Telling me “This is the night” or whatever kinda does the same thing but is less successful because the reader is forced to trudge along until you describe just what “this” is.

Your Sledgehammer - Catch You On The Flipside
You win the award for “Username + Story Title Sounding the Most Like an Emo Band’s Hit Song” so you got that going for you.

You have written a nice, if somewhat cliche, story and its a decent read. However, sometimes your word choices don't work. And that hurts.

"Light and relatable" - good
"ridiculous and lighthearted" - not so much. The choice of going to a baseball game isn't ridiculous, imo. Your explanation of their reasoning is super sound. Certainly not ridiculous.
All the "humor" bits - you keep talking about the humor they were aiming for but I didn't find anything humorous about the situation. Light hearted and easy going, certainly. But not particularly funny.

Benny the Snake
Apr 10, 2012


In and :toxx: my undeserving rear end.

Sep 11, 2011

Well hell I've never done this before, but I'm so in.


Your Sledgehammer
May 10, 2010

Don`t fall asleep, you gotta write for THUNDERDOME

Thanks for the crits, folks.

The pain only makes me stronger, and more eager to vanquish my enemies.

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